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Beamish Museum

Beamish Museum is a large Open Air Museum in County Durham which tells the story of life in the North East from the 1820s-1940s through the using real buildings and its diverse social, industrial & rural life collections. Beamish ‘s Health and Wellbeing programmes are based at ‘Orchard Cottage’. This cosy cottage provides a unique and ‘homely’ space for a range of group activities to support the health and wellbeing of people living in the community.

7 December 2016
North East
Arts, Health, Other
Local Alliances:
County Durham Dementia Action Alliance, North East Dementia Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Provide unique opportunities for people living with dementia, their relatives and carers, to come together, to enjoy the company of others, to learn and discover new things and to support their self confidence and sense of wellbeing.

‘Orchard Cottage’ provides a space for a whole range of activities and conversations away which is away from people’s every day environment and a clinical environment.

Their experiences, feedback and suggestions for developments and new services are genuinely valued and acted upon to ensure that the Museum remains a useable, useable and beneficial community service.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

If people do have their own transport or access to someone who could drive, getting to the Museum and Orchard Cottage could be challenging.  There is a regular service bus that comes to the car park.  So far we have addressed this by giving people clear instructions as to where to park to access Orchard Cottage, clear directions if they are arriving at the Main Entrance.  Where funding is available we can provide a contribution towards transport costs. 

We are not able to have groups larger than 3-8 participants in the cottage at a time due to space.  Larger scale sessions, such as Music Sessions will need to be held in a larger venue at another area of the Museum.


Member website


2. Actions

  • Challenge stigma & build understanding

    Continue to train all employees & volunteers at the Museum as Dementia Friends. 

  • Involvement of people with dementia & acknowledging potential

    Continue to offer a wide range of opportunities  for people living with dementia, their families and carers, to participate in meaningful activities at the Museum with others and to support self confidence and skills to enable people to participate in other community activities too.

    Continue to consult with participants, their relatives and carers, to support the development of health and wellbeing resources and services at the Museum.

  • Accessible Community Activities

    Continue to offer a wide range of opportunities  for people living with dementia, their families and carers, to participate in multi sensory & meaningful activities at the Museum, based at ‘Orchard Cottage’.  Some activities will be specifically for the people living with dementia but we will also focus on ensuring that all activities at the Museum are accessible for people living with dementia so that they can fully participate and enjoy the whole Museum.  For example-creating a weekly facilitated music session, regular walking group, which will aim to support health & wellbeing for people with a whole range of health needs, not just dementia.

  • Practical support to enable engagement in community life & Community based solutions

    Through collaborative working with the Alzheimer’s Society & their services-Dementia support workers, ‘Side-by’Side’- the Museum provides another community based network of support & opportunities for people to receive support in an informal, safe & ‘homely’ environment and information and signposting to other services within County Durham and the region.

    The activities we facilitate all focus around the principles of Cognitive stimulation therapy, are person centred, allow people to have control and make their own decisions, encourage social interaction with others and focus upon visiting skills to help support people to live confidently and independently in their communities.

  • Easy to navigate environments

    ‘Orchard Cottage’ has been sympathetically adapted to provide a safe, accessible & useable environment for the people who visit, with every detail carefully chosen to ensure that the space resembles a familiar and homely environment, which keeps the uniqueness of being at an Open Air Museum. 

    Alterations have been and will continue to be made to ensure the environment is as dementia friendly as possible.

     We will work with teams across the entire Museum to raise understanding of dementia friendly design principles and make adaption’s & improvements where possible.

    We will liaise with the building & design teams overseeing the Museum’s new building developments to ensure that dementia design principles are incorporated to ensure that the Museum environment is as accessible, easy to navigate and an enjoyable experience for all visitors, regardless of any impairments or disability they may have. 

  • Respectful and responsive businesses and services

    Continue to train all staff and volunteers at the Museum as Dementia Friends.

    The Dementia Friends workshop will become a standard part of our induction process for all new staff and volunteers.

    Updates from the DAA and internal activities, training opportunities and news will be circulated to the workforce and presented at internal meetings.

    The Museum’s volunteering policy and Vulnerable Adult Policy will be updated to reflect the capacity of the Museum to support volunteers who are living with dementia.