Shop manager Caroline Mitchell
This week is Dementia Action Week, and this year the theme is inclusion. Staff from Havens Hospices in Essex share how they have made sure all their shops are safe environments where customers with dementia will feel welcome and understood.
The charity – which includes Fair Havens Hospice for adults, Little Havens Hospice for children and The J’s Hospice for teenagers and young adults – has enrolled shop managers from their 23 stores onto the Dementia Friends course to help them and their staff recognise the signs of dementia and support their customers if they are vulnerable.
There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and the numbers are set to rise to over 1 million by 2025, so ensuring that everyone is aware of the needs of those experiencing the illness is becoming more and more important.
Thousands of people living with dementia feel lonely or have lost touch with their friends, which is why the theme of encouraging inclusion was chosen. A survey by the Alzheimer’s Society showed that almost 80 per cent of people with dementia listed shopping as their favourite activity, so taking steps to make sure the experience is enjoyable for them is an ideal way to help prevent feelings of isolation.
Havens Hospice Clinical Nurse Practice Facilitator Liz Brewer oversees the dementia training for the organisation. She says:
“The hospice shops all have someone in them who has done the Dementia Friends course, and the kinds of strategies they learn include not talking too loudly, allowing time for the individual to answer a question, and being patient when waiting for responses. That will hopefully eventually filter out into the community and become a role model for behaviour that other people can then learn and demonstrate.”
The changes made to ensure the shops are welcoming to people with dementia have been easy to do and make a big difference. Caroline Mitchell, Manager of Havens Hospices Stanford-Le-Hope shop, explains:
“We need to make people feel included. Simple things like the layout of the shop can make all the difference as when you have dementia, you can see things differently – a glossy surface can be seen as wet, for example, so we take all of that into account. Our shops also have Dementia Information for people who have concerns to take away with them.”
Dementia Action Week runs until May 26