Dementia Friendly Village Halls

We’re all used to thinking about making different care settings dementia friendly, with assessment tools out there for care homes, wards, hospitals, health centres and housing amongst others. However, other less formal environments where people with dementia are likely to visit or take part in groups and activities can often be overlooked. We were therefore delighted to be asked by Worcester Community Foundation in partnership with Community First in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and the Malvern Dementia Action Alliance to develop a Guide and Checklist for Dementia Friendly Village Halls.

Logos for the participating groups

Village Halls, as vital community hubs, play an important role in supporting their community and in growing the communal life of villages. The Worcester Community Foundation recognised the importance of ensuring that they are able to support members of the community living with dementia, and indeed other conditions and disabilities. Village Halls are used for a very broad range of community activities designed to suit all ages, for example hosting clubs and societies, and providing accommodation for local events, preschool activities, rural post offices, and health services and they can therefore provide a vital lifeline for people living with dementia and their carers.

Community First have recently launched a One Step Out! initiative designed to encourage the use of village halls and the Dementia Friendly Village Halls: A Guide and Checklist is one of the resources that have been made available.

What does the guide and checklist cover?

The guide part of the resource provides background information about the role that village halls have in supporting their community before giving an overview of dementia, the role of carers, and key things to consider when planning and running an event or activity in a village hall. The environmental checklist is designed to get you to consider village halls from the perspective of a person with dementia and includes a series of questions to prompt you to see where improvements could be made to make a village hall more dementia friendly. For each section a rationale is provided to help you understand why different aspects are important for people with dementia. The areas covered are:

  • Lighting
  • Colour and contrast
  • Interior decoration
  • Acoustics/noise
  • Signage and artworks
  • Dining areas, kitchens, café and bar
  • Toilet and shower areas
  • Entrance, porches, hallways, reception areas and corridors
  • Additional areas relevant to a village hall

As you can see it’s quite comprehensive, and while not every question will be relevant for every village hall, there is plenty to get you thinking.

Image of guide cover

Is it based on any evidence or research?

We’ve got a track record in developing tools to make environments dementia friendly and have expertise within ADS in this area, so we were already starting from a strong basis. As part of the development of this guide we carried out an initial literature search to identify existing evidence or information to build on. While nothing we found was specific to village halls, some of the concepts, evidence and advice was transferrable to different settings. This helped to shape some of the prompt questions in the checklist.

Working with the Worcester Community Foundation and one of our own ‘experts by experience’ we also visited some local village halls to identify potential issues that we might not have considered, and to trial early versions of the checklist and see how it worked in practice. Many thanks to the chairmen of the participating village halls for making these visits possible and assisting us with this part of the work.

How can I get hold of a copy?

Community First has kindly made the guide and checklist freely available, and you can download a copy. We’ve also put a link to it on our website alongside our existing environmental assessment tools.

Could I use this guide in a different setting or is it specific to village halls?

Due to the remit from Community First, this guide and checklist were developed specifically with village halls in mind, but many of the principles within it would be applicable in other settings as well. Indeed village halls can vary greatly, so the guide has tried to be relevant across the range.

If you’ve got an interest in a particular area, setting or type of environment which you think could be made more dementia friendly, we’d be more than happy to work with you to develop a guide focusing on a different setting. If you’re interested you can get in touch with us at

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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