The Government has committed to encourage and support all businesses to be dementia friendly by 2020 as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020. Beswicks are proud to be a part of that challenge and I am delighted to announce that we are now Dementia Friends.
What is a Dementia Friend I hear you ask?
A Dementia Friend learns what it is like to live with dementia and knows how to act more sympathetically towards those with the condition in the community and workplace. The Alzheimer’s Society’s programme was launched to change people’s perceptions of dementia, and to “transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition”.
Major employers including Marks and Spencer, Asda, Argos, Homebase, Easyjet, Aviva and Lloyds TSB Banking Group have all shown their support by creating Dementia Friends amongst their staff. In fact, in 2014 all 79,600 Marks and Spencer’s staff became Dementia Friends.
Why do businesses and industry need to take action?
The impact on businesses and the economy is already significant. A recent report by the Centre of Economics and Business Research claims early retirement of those diagnosed with dementia is estimated to cost businesses £627 million a year. With a growing need for the over 65s to stay in employment, by 2030, the cost of skills and experience lost from the workforce due to dementia will rise to £1.16 billion.
The report also highlights the number of workers reducing hours, changing work patterns or even giving up their employment due to the demands of caring, is expected to increase.
It predicts that businesses will have to provide to a growing number of customers with dementia, estimating that the “dementia pound” – the spending powers of families affected by dementia – will rise to £22.7 billion by 2030.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society has urged businesses to be more dementia friendly. He says “Dementia affects every workplace; from people struggling with early symptoms of memory loss at work, to those juggling a job whilst caring for a loved one. As the condition touches the lives of more people, businesses must gear up to support all people with dementia; staff and customers alike.” Hughes adds “by increasing staff’s knowledge and understanding of the condition through Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends, businesses can make small but positive changes to the way they operate”.
Some businesses have already started to make their services more dementia friendly. For example, BT has introduced specific products such as an answerphone which can play back messages slowly for people who might otherwise struggle to understand what was being said. But it could just be the small things that will make the biggest difference- the smiles, the eye contact, the time.
As part of Dementia Awareness Week 2016, the wills and estate planning team here at Beswicks Legal are hosting an informative talk: Action by Business and Industry on Thursday 19 May, 2016, for full details and on how to reserve a place, contact us.