Get me out of here!

A man in a red pullover, and a woman with a white jacket stand in front of a door that has a way out sign on it.How useful is a “way out” sign? It depends on where you are and what your spatial abilities are at the time. For people with dementia it can be a real issue in places where toilets are placed down corridors away from the shopping mall or supermarket.

This issue was highlighted earlier this year when a man with dementia died in a stairwell because he lost his way. Due to auto door locks in the stairwell he couldn’t get out. Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the UK have toilets within the store. They are now installing “way out” signs to guide people back to the store. They are also making them more friendly for people with a stoma. Having a toilet within the store is also good for all customers. If you need to go quickly you don’t have to abandon your trolley. We could do with more in-store toilets in Australia, especially when they are not within a larger shopping mall. And larger shopping malls could consider installing a Changing Places toilet with their next refurbishment.

Editor’s comment: I wasn’t the only one finding the kitchens instead of the conference lobby at the new ICC in Sydney. Toilet signage is minimal in this venue you really have to search for it. And in one location it is also totally confusing in terms of finding you way back to the conference! The kitchen staff eventually put up a barrier and a sign saying “kitchen”. A permanent way out or way back sign would have done the job.