Lauren Curry, Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator, from the Alzheimer’s Society and member of the Buxton & High Peak Dementia Action Alliance, came to speak to our members at our September meeting at the Devonshire Dome. Lauren is funded through Derbyshire County Council, Public Health to coordinate the “Dementia-Friendly Communities” (DFC) initiative throughout North Derbyshire.
She came to speak about how businesses within Buxton can work towards becoming dementia-friendly and ultimately how we can work towards the town’s aim of being a dementia-friendly town.
Current data suggests over 850,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia. There are over 14,000 living with dementia in Derbyshire; although, with an average of 33% of people not receiving a diagnosis, these figures are easily pushed to over 21,000 people.
All businesses and organisations share the responsibility for ensuring those affected by dementia feel valued, understood and able to contribute to their community for as long as is possible. Often people stop doing the things they enjoy as their dementia progresses because they are worried about getting the support they need.
Simple, small actions in places of work can enable those affected to continue with things they enjoy and wish to access. For example, your workforce could attend a “Dementia Friends” awareness session, which lasts ~45 minutes and introduces you to what it is like to live with dementia, an understanding of some of the symptoms and to be aware of the needs of those affected. Moving forward, you could also consider the following at your business premises:
- the environment – are you accessible? do you have clear signage? or visually-confusing surfaces or materials?
- how people are treated – do your staff understand challenges that people living with dementia may face? are they confident in helping?
- how could you help those with memory difficulties with respect to appointments or events?
- how easy is it to navigate into and out of your building?
Being dementia-friendly would also give your business a competitive advantage, the ability to future proof (over 1 million people are expected to be affected by dementia by 2021) and enhance your brand reputation as being socially-responsible. These actions would help to combat social isolation and help those living in your community to remain independent.
Furthermore, it would improve your customer service for all: when a business or organisation gets it right for people living with dementia and their carers, it gets it right for everyone. It is also a legal obligation to ensure access to your services are as inclusive as possible.
Buxton and other areas of the High Peak have made great steps in working towards their town’s vision and your business is invited to join the Buxton & High Peak Dementia Action Alliance and help continue this success in working towards being a recognised “dementia friendly community”. There are currently no recognised dementia friendly communities in the northern parts of Derbyshire. As a centre of health and wellbeing, Buxton would be a great place to attain it. The Alzheimer’s Society recognise that Buxton has many listed buildings which preclude some alteration, but you can focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
The next meeting of the Buxton & High Peak Dementia Action Alliance is on Tuesday 23 October, 10am-12noon at the Devonshire Dome.
In this meeting, the alliance are updating their action plan to reflect their actions going forward to become a Dementia Friendly Community. All who wish to help work towards their vision are welcome to attend.
Lauren is also happy to help your business on its journey to becoming dementia-friendly. Please contact her for more information about what is involved on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01332 208845. There are also resources available for business and community premises on the Alzheimer’s Society website www.alzheimers.org.uk.