Updated: Jan 12
A Lexington restaurant has taken a big step in building a more inclusive community. On Tuesday, Ramsey's Diner became the city's first dementia-friendly restaurant. Their staff successfully completed training provided by community organization Dementia Friendly Lexington on how to recognize and care for customers with dementia.
The Ramsey's staff celebrated the certification by partnering with Dementia Friendly Lexington to host the city's first Dementia-Friendly Restaurant Night at their Zandale location. The evening included a brief dedication ceremony and dinner with members from the community where staff members could put their new skills to the test.
For Rob Ramsey, who started Ramsey's Diner back in 1989, the decision to complete the training was an easy one.
"It was not anything we had to debate," he told Southern Living. "As society embraces diversity, I think that diversity of age needs to be included. We want our customers to feel comfortable at our restaurant regardless of anything that might make them 'different'."
During training, waitstaff and front-of-house employees learned the basics of providing "relationship-centered service." The goal is to make customers with dementia, as well as their caregivers, feel supported and understood.
Through a series of training videos, staff learned practical applications for how to best interact with someone with dementia. They learned to prioritize patience, ask yes or no questions, provide visual cues, and use positive language to encourage customers. Waitstaff also learned to narrow down menu options for those with dementia so it's harder for them to become confused or overwhelmed. Rather than handing customers a menu with dozens of options, it's better to provide two verbal options, then wait to see their reaction after each.
Both Ramsey's and Dementia Friendly Lexington hope news of Ramsey's certification will inspire other local restaurants to join them in making the city more inclusive to people with dementia.
"To provide a place that [people with dementia] can come without fear of being judged, and to interact with workers who understand and care, gives that segment of our society a whole new lease on life," Ramsey's office manager BJ Birge told Southern Living. "It provides them with some normalcy and dignity."
Way to go, Ramsey's!