How to make your business dementia friendly
6 min read
13 August 2019
Ben Atkinson-Willes, founder of Active Minds, highlights some of the steps your business can take to become a dementia-friendly organisation.
With around 50 million people living with dementia around the world, it is one of the biggest societal challenges we face today.
There are many opportunities for businesses to take on the role of becoming dementia friendly and to provide a safe and comfortable place for those living with dementia to visit. Here we highlight just some of the steps your business can take to become a dementia-friendly organisation.
What is dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions which affect the brain, with one of the most common being Alzheimer’s. Each person’s dementia journey is different and their experiences will be unique. However, there are some common changes such as memory loss, difficulty communicating and a decline in cognitive ability that often occur in most cases.
What does it mean to become dementia friendly?
As a dementia-friendly business you will be helping those living with dementia continue to live well and remain part of the community. When living with dementia there is often concern surrounding staying independent or being able to conduct tasks such as doing food shopping.
By providing a dementia-friendly place to visit, use for dementia activities, do the shopping or dine at, you are helping those living with dementia to retain independence and reduce social isolation.
Becoming dementia friendly has been shown to be beneficial for all, as most schemes involve a variety of things, such as improving accessibility, providing patient and supportive customer service and having an overall increase in understanding around catering to people’s differing needs.
The benefits of becoming a dementia-friendly business
By becoming a dementia-friendly business you are opening your doors to numerous new customers. With over 850,000 people in the UK alone living with dementia, and the numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025, this is an ever-increasing area to support.
According to an Alzheimer’s Society study, 83% of people living with dementia switched their shopping to somewhere that was more accessible. As a business you will not only retain your existing customer base, but build on this by inviting those living with dementia and their carers to choose your business over others.
Another brilliant benefit of becoming dementia friendly is improving your customer service. The increase in awareness, patience and knowledge when conversing with someone living with dementia can be transferred to all customers and will lead to better overall customer service.
Becoming dementia friendly
In order to become a dementia-friendly business, there are certain steps you can take. Here are just a few of them.
Training your staff to understand the needs of someone living with dementia will help make sure that your business can work towards becoming dementia friendly. There are many courses available for staff to attend, which you can tailor to suit each industry. Training can include everything from engaging and connecting with someone living with dementia to understanding customer needs. These courses are especially important for those in customer-facing roles.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 18% of people diagnosed with dementia in the UK who continue working after their diagnosis. It is therefore important to support staff who may be living with dementia to ensure they are comfortable in the work environment. Support through work is vital for helping overall wellbeing. This may involve changing their roles slightly, making things more accessible and meeting with them regularly to ensure they are happy with their job.
Accessibility is vital for creating a dementia-friendly environment. Things such as altering the layout so it’s easy to understand along with displaying larger and clearer signage will help in reducing confusion. As visual perception can often change when living with dementia, navigating may become more difficult. So it’s important to consider the physical environment when becoming dementia friendly.
When taking steps to become dementia friendly, one of the most important things to do is to educate people on what dementia is. Providing information through online resources, signs, print outs or emails will help staff understand the support your business can provide. You can also raise awareness through organised events or social media and blogs.
Engaging with other dementia-friendly businesses will help to build a dementia-friendly community that is accessible for all. Learning more about the needs of your customers and visitors will help you to grow and become a welcoming business that supports the local community.
Businesses are vital for creating dementia-friendly communities and providing spaces for those living with dementia to feel accepted and to help reduce social isolation. By taking steps to make your business dementia friendly, you will not only be opening doors to new customers, you will be helping those living in your community, while working towards removing the stigma surrounding dementia.