Stirchley has been officially called a ‘dementia-friendly community’ because of the commitment that lots of local people and organisations have shown, to making Stirchley a safe, supportive and welcoming place for people with dementia to be.
Everyone in Stirchley can help our community become even more ‘dementia-friendly.’ Businesses, anyone working in customer service or other public-facing roles, police and emergency service staff, local clubs, societies and faith groups could be particularly important.
What is a ‘dementia-friendly’ business?
In a dementia-friendly business, staff will be aware of what dementia is and how it might affect customers. Where possible, adaptations might be made in the building or in the way that staff interact with customers, to make the business more welcoming to people living with dementia and their carers.
What is dementia?
Dementia can cause problems with memory. People with dementia might have a range of difficulties, including struggling to remember their PIN, getting confused when counting out money, forgetting what they were about to do or what they need, or even becoming confused about where they are or how to get home.
Dementia also affects people’s senses including vision and hearing, so they might find it harder to cope with noise, or with lighting that is either too low or too bright. Dementia also restricts people’s physical movement. This could make it harder to go up and down stairs, or to safely navigate roads and pavements.
Having dementia, or caring for someone who does, can be a very lonely experience. Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society show that less than half (47%) of people living with dementia feel a part of their community, and 28% said they have given up even leaving the house.
Your business could make a huge difference, helping people to feel less socially isolated, more understood and more cared-about.
Why is it important for local businesses to help?
Under the Equality Act (2010), organisations have a legal duty to make access to services as inclusive as possible. This includes making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for customers and employees with disabilities, including dementia.
Being more ‘dementia friendly’ will also help your business because:
- Many of your current or potential customers may have dementia or care for someone who does. Making your services accessible to them will mean that you keep and build on existing custom.
- Staff who understand dementia (and other disabilities) will offer better customer service. This means that customers will be happier and staff will feel more confident in their work.
- Becoming a ‘dementia friendly business’ shows local people that you are socially-responsible and care about your customers. This helps give your business a positive reputation amongst local people.
- According to a 2013 survey by the Alzheimer’s Society, 83% of people with memory problems have changed where they shop, to somewhere that is more suitable for their needs. Even small adjustments may make people with dementia (or their carers) more likely to choose your business and keep coming back to you.
The number of people living with dementia is likely to keep increasing, so by making changes now, you can help your business stay strong in the future.
And remember, even small changes can make a big difference! Do not expect to get everything right all the time or be disheartened if you cannot make some of the changes mentioned here. A kind and understanding attitude from you and your team will go a long way to helping people with dementia and their carers.
What can I / my business do?
Empowering staff and volunteers:
People with dementia say that it is the people they meet when out and about who make all the difference. If your staff are friendly and welcoming, that makes people with dementia feel safe and looked-after.
A staff training session, or just having a discussion in your team about how you will help people with dementia, can help you provide more positive customer service, and reduce any anxiety staff might have about supporting people with dementia. For example, decide how your staff / managers will handle a situation where a customer cannot remember their PIN.
For advice and guidance, you can register your business at http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk. This gives you access to videos and other online resources to help your business become more dementia friendly. Staff should all be encouraged to wear their Dementia Friends badges. This forget-me-not symbol gives an unspoken message to people with dementia and their carers, that they are welcome and that staff will try to be sensitive to their needs.
Even if you cannot make huge changes in your building, small changes could make a difference:
- Signs should be clear and concise. Position them at eye level and on the doors they refer to (eg exit, toilet). Glass doors can be confusing, so use a sign or marking to make the door more noticeable.
- Lighting – use natural light where possible and avoid excessive brightness or darkness. To make a dark room appear brighter, consider painting the walls a light or bright primary colour.
- Landmarks – large plants or pictures can help people with dementia find their way round a building.
- Seating – ensure you have enough seating so that visitors do not have to stand or walk through the building for long without opportunity to rest.
- Floors / stairs. Avoid having a highly polished or slippery floor. Minimise trip hazards, including rugs or mats which someone may stumble on. Stairs should ideally be in a different colour from the floor, and any other obstacles should be clearly marked.
To sign up as an ambassador or to find out more about our campaign, please email us at:
The Alzheimer’s Society (2013)
Lewes Chamber of Commerce
Dementia Friendly Stirchley has been funded by the Selly Oak Constituency Neighbourhood Network Scheme.