Dementia affects every business with some people trying to cope with early memory loss and others struggling to care for a loved one at home. 21% of carers give up work or reduce hours at a cost to businesses in England of £1.6 billion (CEBR, 2014).
Employers for Carers state that 1 in 9 working people are looking after an older, ill or disabled loved-one and a joint report by Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society, called on employers to adapt their working environment.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) revealed that by 2030, dementia caring obligations will cost companies more than £3 billion and have a huge impact as carers will need to reduce hours, change work patterns or even quit, due to the demands on families.
The report recognised that businesses which are not sufficiently dementia friendly will also lose out as the spending power of households affected by dementia, is set to double to £22.7 million by 2030 due to the increased number of people being diagnosed.
Businesses are now recognising this issue, with 1 in 12 companies (8%) now offering greater flexibility in order to retain skilled workers who are carers of a relative with dementia.
Companies such as Lloyds Pharmacy and M&S are now Dementia Friends and Barclays, Lloyds Banking, Argos, BT and Bourne Leisure are working towards becoming Dementia Friendly businesses.
Locally, Barclays, Bennett Griffin and South Downs Leisure all have two or more Dementia Champions on their staff and are rolling out Dementia Friends as part of induction processes.
Matt Hammerstein, MD for Barclays said: ‘Barclays is committed to supporting vulnerable customers and we have the ambition to be the most accessible and inclusive bank for all customers and clients. It is crucial to us as a business to help make all our customers’ lives easier and we urge other businesses to sign up and help make all those affected by dementia, continue to feel valued.’
Increasing employers and employees’ awareness and understanding of the condition, through offering staff Dementia Friends information sessions, businesses can make a small but positive change in the way they operate and workers can talk openly about the disease rather than fearing a negative response from a colleague or manager. The businesses can sign up to the Worthing Dementia Alliance and support the town in becoming Dementia Friendly.
Currently, only 63% of people with dementia in West Sussex have a formal diagnosis. Many are reluctant to talk to their doctor or seek help putting their symptoms down to stress or depression rather than have a conversation with their employer who could support them to stay in work.
Creating a Dementia Friendly Workplace is an Alzheimer’s Society publication providing guidelines to support businesses.
There are four guides available for businesses to download:
West Sussex support for small and medium businesses
West Sussex County Council and Employers for Carers are supporting small and medium sized businesses in West Sussex to keep hold of their carers. You can find free practical resources, advice and information from www.employersforcarers.org – use the membership code #EFC1365 to register, or email Sarah Cutler on Impact Workability or phone her on 01903 730044 for more details of the scheme.