Chief Executive's Blog: Supporting People Living With Dementia

We’ve all got a little bit too used to looking at statistics over the past year. I hope you don’t doomscroll for the 5pm updates on Coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths every day, but even if you’re trying to avoid looking at this it’s hard to avoid the stark and shocking numbers providing the backdrop to this period of our lives. It’s a bit of a cliché to say we should look at the people behind the statistics – of course we should do that but it’s quite abstract and often quite depressing.

So what can we do to respond to the pandemic not just as businesses but as people? I think a good way to think about your role now and how we emerge from this is to consider the value we’re adding to our everyday interactions will people who need us. Local shops have been doing this well before the pandemic, but that additional bit of help you can give someone in store, or the delivery you can make to a vulnerable customer, or the words of support for an anxious colleague – all these things have more value now than ever. To add this value and play this part in the national effort you need to understand the needs of your customers, and to have empathy with their situation, and this is one of the reasons we’ve been focusing on helping retailers and colleagues to become Dementia Friends.

Imagine facing into the stress and anxiety of these times in the context of living with dementia, or having a close relative living with dementia. Every interaction is harder and riskier, every word or smile or raised voice could have an impact that lasts for hours or days or longer, and the prospect of being alone while suffering from Covid-19 – worrying for any of us – is unthinkably scary. One of the soundbites of this crisis is that trends have been accelerated, amplified and magnified due to the pandemic, and we talk about this a lot in respect of shopping habits and trading issues. Well, that’s also true when it comes to living with dementia: life-changing problems becoming even more critical.

In case it’s not clear, this is what it’s got to do with us: 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and there are about 46,000 convenience stores in the UK. So, have a think about the number of interactions you and your colleagues will have with those people and their carers. Yes, there are many customers with many disabilities who need your help, but sadly as dementia becomes more common, understanding how to help this group of customers is going to become as fundamental to your business and ordering stock or checking date codes. If that all sounds a bit negative, let’s look at this the other way round: what an opportunity to help people, inspire loyalty, equip your colleagues with skills that will help them form life (in their work with you and beyond), and cement your community role.

When we decided to focus on this issue, we didn’t want to make it about fundraising, we wanted to provide practical support. Our Supporting Vulnerable Customers guide covers a wider range of issues but includes some key information on supporting people with dementia. And coming up, we have online training courses which you can attend for free. Yes, you and your colleagues are very busy now, but this is a great chance to learn more and to help your customers, it really can’t wait! Book here to take part in the courses that we’re running with the Alzheimer's Society.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 11:44
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