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Westfield Tuggerah introduces ‘Quiet Hour’ for people with dementia, autism

Following a month-long trial, “Quiet Hour” will now be a permanent fixture at Westfield Tuggerah.

The NSW shopping centre has introduced Quiet Hour for individuals with autism, dementia and sensory sensitivities where bright lights and loud sounds of a busy shopping centre can be overwhelming.

Every Tuesday from 10:30am to 11:30am, Westfield Tuggerah will reduce the volume throughout the centre, lower the lights in safe areas and stop non-essential announcements.

Forty participating retailers will change the type of music they play, and some retailers will hold off on any restocking and turn off point-of-sale beeping to improve the shopping experience for individuals who live with dementia, autism and sensory sensitivities. 

“We want our living centres to be inclusive and welcoming, and to empower all of our customers to experience our centres with ease, dignity and respect,” said Karen Skinner, Scentre Group regional manager NSW/ACT. 

“We’ve listened to our customers, and our centre management team has worked hard to make Westfield Tuggerah more welcoming and responsive to our customers’ needs.”

Dementia Australia, which recently recognised the centre for ‘working towards Dementia-Friendly Organisation’, said they are pleased to support the introduction of a quiet hour at Westfield Tuggerah and said they are keen to see more dementia-friendly activities like this across the nation.

“We commend and acknowledge all of the retailers for taking these steps to become more welcoming and inclusive of people living with dementia, in the region,” said Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe.  ​

“With an estimated 447,000 Australians living with dementia today, and this number expected to grow to almost 1.1 million by 2058, it’s important that we build a better understanding of dementia and the steps people can take — such as the quiet hour, which can make someone living with dementia, their families and carers, remain connected to their community.”

According to Dementia Australia, becoming dementia-friendly is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and feedback from people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“To reach this status organisations need to demonstrate they have worked with and sought feedback from people living with dementia, their families and carers, and have taken or will take steps to make changes to the built environment, and/or the delivery of services based on that feedback.”

Each action plan is reviewed by Dementia Australia and a team of advocates who themselves live with dementia.

Last year, Coles introduced an autism spectrum-friendly low-sensory “Quiet Hour” experience in 173 of its stores.

According to a recent study, businesses could generate an extra $4 billion in revenue and reach more consumers if they built products and introduce services with an inclusive design in mind. 

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