Why should your organisation’s New Year’s resolution be to become dementia friendly?
Every year many of us make personal resolutions and say that we are going to eat healthier, drink less alcohol, exercise more. In 2020, why not join together with your colleagues and try a new more meaningful resolution by taking steps to make your organisation more dementia friendly? More than 850,000 are reported to be living with dementia in England and Wales and these numbers are increasing. It's a new year and it's time to make a difference!
Businesses can play a key role in creating dementia friendly communities. Without support in the local community, people with dementia can feel socially excluded and isolated resulting in a negative impact on their quality of life and health. Many issues are due to lack of understanding, stigma, confusing processes and inaccessible environments. Small changes can make such a difference and these issues can be resolved by taking a bit of time to understand how dementia can affect a person.
Supporting people living with dementia to use your services is a socially responsible step that can also benefit your business. Having staff who have an Increased knowledge and awareness of dementia will hopefully make them more confident when dealing with all customers leading to improved customer service. When a business gets it right for people with dementia, it more likely than not gets it right for everyone!
Taking steps to become dementia friendly will enhance your brand reputation and help you comply with equality legislation. Furthermore, you and your staff will also feel good and benefit from an increased well-being knowing that you have helped to improve the lives of local people living with dementia by enabling people to carry on doing the things they want to do and live well with their dementia despite the challenges dementia can bring.
You could start working to become dementia friendly by doing one (or all!) of the following:
- Arrange an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends information session with a local champion - a Dementia Friends information session is an informal and relaxed session where you can find out about how dementia affects a person and the small things we can all do to help. You can search for a local session online or contact me;
- Attend a ‘Virtual Dementia Tour’ - the Virtual Dementia Tour is medically and scientifically proven to be the closest experience that we can give a person with a healthy brain of what dementia might be like. There’s one coming to Maidstone especially for local businesses in February 2020;
- Get involved with your local Dementia Friendly Community group – across Kent we have several active groups where local residents, business representatives and volunteers are sharing ideas, supporting each other and working on projects to make their local community more dementia friendly;
- Check out the various dementia friendly business guides and resources on the Alzheimer’s Society website – there are guides for all types of organisations from retail to finance to utilities! (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-friendly-communities/making-organisations-dementia-friendly/businesses).
As well as awareness training for key staff, looking at clear and concise signage, ease of navigation, lighting, seating areas and types of flooring are important – for example, a simple change such as a toilet seat of a contrasting colour can reduce confusion and embarrassment and make sure those living with dementia visiting your organisation feel more comfortable.
If your organisation does decide to really commit to becoming dementia friendly in 2020, Kent County Council (‘KCC’) coordinate a ‘Working to become Dementia Friendly Kent’ recognition scheme which allows you to display a recognition symbol. Your organisation could also be recognised in the annual Dementia Friendly Kent awards if it does something really amazing!
This new year, why not make it your organisation’s resolution to take steps towards becoming dementia friendly? For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Article written by Bekka Fuszard - Solicitor at Whitehead Monckton, Dementia Friends Champion and Chair of Building a Dementia Friendly Maidstone