Small Business Saturday: Making your organisation more dementia-friendly

A number of small businesses are working with Dementia Friends to help people affected by dementia. Given that it is Small Business Saturday (5 Dec), we wanted to highlight some of these people who are working with us to make their businesses more dementia-friendly.

Why get your organisation involved with Dementia Friends?

The most common answer when we ask businesses this question is that they want to respond to their customers’ needs and be able to support them as much as possible.

Organisations are realising that they can take action to help people with dementia, and are proactively stepping up to help. Anita Peters from Liverpool Mutual Homes (house repairs & maintenance firm) says ‘The majority of our employees are customer facing and are working in people’s homes. They would be the first to notice if a customer was experiencing difficulties. We wanted to educate our employees on how dementia affects people and how to assist those who have it.’

For the staff at the Merry Maids they have recognised a change in their customer requirements, prompting them to make their small business more dementia-friendly, to go that extra mile for their customers. “I’ve noticed the needs of our customer base change significantly… we’re called to work with more elderly clients and their families…as a caring and family-orientated business, I felt that we should do something extra to be more aware of the needs of our more vulnerable customers.” – Debbie Walker, Merry Maids.

How to get your organisation signed up to Dementia Friends

It doesn’t take long to sign your organisation up on the Dementia Friends website – but don’t just take our word for it! Anita said it was “extremely easy” and Ian from C&Y Partnership Trust thought it was “very straightforward”. Once signed up, you’ll have access to the videos which can be shown to your staff at inductions, training days or team meetings. At Liverpool Mutual Homes these videos have become part of their corporate induction process. These are a great way to engage your staff with Dementia Friends, as Danielle from Well Pharmacy agreed:

‘You learn a lot in a short space of time, which is great for a busy team.’  - Danielle, Well Pharmacy

The videos are just one way of getting your colleagues to become Dementia Friends. Our team can help if you are interested in attending a face-to-face Information Session run by one of our volunteer Dementia Friends Champions. To find out more, email dforgs@alzheimers.org.uk

What impact does it have?

For many businesses it has given them an insight into why there customers may react or behave in a certain way. It also helps them to change their business practices and accommodate needs which they were unaware of before. Debbie said ‘We looked at certain customers we have and began to realise why they may have reacted to certain situations. It has also provided the team with tips on how we can be helpful to our clients, for example helping to explain the invoice; repeating what we are going to do on each visit; and where possible, offering the same members of staff.’

‘There is a renewed sense of care and confidence amongst the team; that they can make a difference in their everyday job. Our personal service just became a lot more personal and we’re using our new found skills each and every day.’ – Debbie, Merry Maids

Interested in getting your organisation involved with Dementia Friends? Visit the website to find out more. Email dforgs@alzheimers.org.uk if you have any questions.

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