Worthing is one of 225 communities in the UK working to become dementia friendly. On Tuesday, 28 March, local businesses from Worthing to Bognor, turned up to Worthing’s Dementia Action Alliance event to discover how they could become part of a dementia friendly community.
Following presentations on dementia friendly communities by the Alzheimer’s Society and members of Worthing Dementia Action Alliance, local businesses such as Bennett Griffin and Stagecoach Buses spoke about how they were supporting the initiative and the benefits to customers, clients and employees.
Bennett Griffin’s journey began with a Dementia Friends information session for a team of fifteen. Following positive feedback, the firm invested in two of their solicitors, Ian Macara and Elin Dukes, being accredited by the Alzheimer’s Society as Dementia Friends Champions. They now facilitate sessions in-house for all employees providing a better understanding of what dementia is and how they can tailor their advice and assistance to meet growing needs. In addition, they offer monthly open sessions to members of the public and are strong advocates within the business community. Ian Macara said, ‘The sessions show how some seemingly small things our staff can do help those affected by dementia or their carers and can make a huge difference to their experience as their clients.’
Southdown Leisure, which includes Splashpoint and Worthing Leisure Centre, have around 200 staff. Their four Dementia Champions are rolling the programme out across their centres and, local bus company Stagecoach, are just getting off the ground with their admin staff and hope to start their roll-out to 180+ drivers as soon as they are able.
Dawn Fairbrother, from the Alzheimer’s Society, explained how people who are affected by dementia, wanted to be better understood and included so that they could continue to contribute to their local community. ‘Everyone, from governments and health boards to the local corner shop and hairdressers, has a responsibility to make sure people with dementia feel active, engaged and valued’ said Dawn.
How can businesses become dementia friendly?
- Improve staff awareness and understand of the impact of dementia and how it changes customers’ needs.
- Review the physical environment of your business and consider how a customer with dementia may be confused with a process to purchase and how you might improve this.
- Support staff who develop dementia or care for a person with dementia, by permitting flexible working hours so a carer can attend a monthly carers support meeting, hospital/doctor’s appointments. A little understanding from a boss can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety carers are often under.
- Support the local community. Be involved in Dementia Awareness Week, hold your own event or, attend and support another. Hold a Dementia Friends session or a bake-off to help raise awareness.
The Worthing Dementia Action Alliance is able to offer Dementia Friends sessions to local businesses and also put you in touch with business support if you have carers in your workforce.