Our high streets are set to become more dementia friendly following a commitment from major British businesses today (Friday 28 February). Argos, Homebase, Marks and Spencer and Lloyds Banking Group, backed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, have committed to create over 121,500 Dementia Friends in shops and banks across the UK.
A recent study by Alzheimer’s Society found that one in four people with dementia have given up shopping since being diagnosed, even though the majority feel this is the most common activity that enables them to feel part of their community.
Dementia Friends, is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative that will help staff learn about dementia and the steps they can take to make a difference to the lives of people with the condition.
From being more patient with a customer paying at a till point to communicating more clearly over the telephone – there are many ways in which becoming a dementia friend will help staff interact with people with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Society is now calling on other businesses to work to become more dementia friendly by offering sessions to their staff.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘Many people with dementia tell us that shopping and visiting their local high street can be very stressful but today’s announcement brings us a step closer to becoming a dementia friendly society. We applaud Argos, Homebase, Marks and Spencer and Lloyds Banking Group on their commitment to help their staff understand more about dementia.
‘Dementia Friends will enable people with dementia to feel more independent when they go out. Sometimes this can mean the difference between staying in the community or being forced to move to a care home prematurely. We are now calling on other businesses to follow the lead of Homebase, Argos, Marks and Spencer, and Lloyds Banking Group.’
Terry Duddy, CEO of Home Retail Group which owns Argos and Homebase
‘Argos and Homebase have shown real passion in driving forward change for people with dementia. We are offering all of our 50,000 colleagues the opportunity to become Dementia Friends. Already over 250 colleagues have taken part in the programme. Colleagues say this has made a real difference to them personally and that they will be in a better position to understand customers and their carers who have been affected by dementia.
‘We want to help people living with dementia stay in their own homes and be part of their local community for longer. We hope that by offering Dementia Friends on hand to help with shopping in our stores, they will be able to do just that.’
Sacha Berendji, Marks & Spencer Retail Director, said:
‘When we heard that a quarter of all people with dementia feel that they can no longer go shopping, despite it being the local activity that they enjoy most, we knew that M&S had to play a part in changing this for the better. We want our stores to be friendly, safe environments for customers with dementia. That’s why we will be empowering all 60,000 of our store colleagues to become Dementia Friends over the course of the year.’
Graham Lindsay, Director, Responsible Business at Lloyds Banking Group, said:
‘As part of our ambition to help Britain prosper, we are committed to helping people affected by dementia to live well with the condition. Alongside Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve led the development of a charter to help the financial services industry become more dementia-friendly. Our charity of the year partnership has captured the hearts and minds of our colleagues, who have raised over £2.5million in just over a year. To continue our work in the fight against dementia, our goal is to sign up at least 11,500 Dementia Friends across our business.’
Employers interested in offering Dementia Friends sessions to their staff should visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk
Video content and photos from Jeremy Hunt’s visit to an Argos store on Thursday 27 February can be found here http://onlinepressoffice.tnrcommunications.co.uk/alzheimers-society/