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Dec 2015: Huguenot Museum

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Press release 15th December 2015

Kent ‘mystery shoppers’ help make Huguenot Museum more dementia friendly

Clearer directions and signage, avoiding information overload and providing dedicated headphones could all make the experience of visiting Rochester’s Huguenot Museum (1) an even more enjoyable place to visit for people who have dementia, local mystery shoppers say in a new report by research charity Rica (now RiDC) (2).

The shoppers, members of the Kent-based Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project
(DEEP) (3) group Memorybilia (4), are all people living with dementia and range in age from the mid-50s to the late 60s. They visited the Huguenot Museum ‘anonymously’ in October 2015 as part of its ongoing drive to ensure that its galleries and events are accessible to as many people as possible.

Lighting, signs, patterns and intrusive sound may all contribute to making public places frustrating and disorientating for people with dementia. As an active member of the Medway Dementia Action Alliance, the Huguenot Museum was keen to find out how it could improve the visitor experience.

Shoppers “had a very positive experience” at the museum and “would like to visit again,” they told Rica researchers. However, they highlighted improvements which could enhance the experience for people with dementia, including clear, unambiguous directions; easier to read text size with high contrast; headphones to add information and remove distractions; and clear explanations of interactive exhibits.

What the mystery shoppers from Memorybilia think about their experience:


Andrew says: “I like the whole thing, really, it’s modern and comfortable, and it’s quiet. [You can] think quietly.”

Jane says: “It’s very relaxed.”


Geoff says: “It wasn’t too bright, it was easy to focus on the exhibits. Sometimes you go into a place with a bright light and it tends to occupy your vision rather than looking at what’s on the table.”

The story:

Geoff says: “It seemed to flow naturally; [the timeline] built up a picture of how it happened.”

Written information:

Jane says: “I would have liked to know more about the artefacts in the glass cabinet, but unfortunately the writing was too small.”

Delivering information:

Peter says: “Something that I did find difficult… there was a television video going on, and I found I couldn’t concentrate on [reading information cards], I can only concentrate on one thing at a time.”

(All names used are pseudonyms.)

Amy Dimmock, the Huguenot Museum’s Learning and Community Engagement Officer, adds: “It was great to work with Rica and DEEP on the mystery shopping project. We found it incredibly useful to see the space through others’ eyes and to see what works and what could be changed. We’re already planning changes to the galleries to make the museum more dementia friendly.”

The mystery shopping project was carried out by RiDC, the experts in age and ability research, in partnership with Innovations in Dementia (iD)(3) and local groups developed through the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project. RiDC was funded by the John Ellerman Foundation in a major initiative to develop and carry out consumer research with people with dementia.


A copy of the full research report is available at: www.rica.org.uk/sites/default/files/RicaHuguenotMuseum-dementiaresearch.pdf

For further information, please contact:
Eric Harris, RiDC: ericharris@ridc.org.uk Tel: 020 7427 2460
Nada Savitch, Innovations in Dementia: nada@innovationsindementia.org.uk Mobile: 07549 921901
Katie Antill, Memorybilia:  katie.antill@alzheimers.org.uk
Amy Dimmock, Huguenot Museum: learning@huguenotmuseum.org


  1. The Huguenot Museum in Rochester tells the story of Britain’s French Protestant refugees. It has an archive room for visitors to conduct their own family history. Huguenot Museum, 95 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1LX. Tel: 01634 789347 www.huguenotmuseum.org
  2. RiDC is a consumer research charity that works with older and disabled people and aims to improve products and services to ensure inclusion and full access. www.ridc.org.uk

    Read more about RiDC's dementia research programme and resource here: www.ridc.org.uk/content/dementia-research

  3. Innovations in Dementia is a community interest company that works nationally with people with dementia, partner organisations and professionals with the aim of developing and testing projects that will enhance the lives of people with dementia. It facilitates the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP), which supports a UK network of groups of people with dementia. www.innovationsindementia.org.uk
  4. Memorybilia is a service user involvement group for people with dementia from Kent and Medway and is facilitated by Alzheimer’s Society and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT). Tel: 01622 747181 www.alzheimers.org.uk/localinfo
  5. Alzheimer's Society works to combat stigma about dementia and calls for other organisations to help people with dementia make everyday choices.

    Last updated: September 2019

    See also: RiDC's consumer research panel | Our latest news