High streets on Tyneside are set to become more dementia-friendly following a commitment from major businesses as part of an initiative from the Alzheimer’s Society.
Branches of Marks and Spencer and Lloyds Banking Group, as well as staff at 33 Homebase and Argos stores in the region, will become “dementia friends” learning about the steps they can take to make a difference to people living with the condition in their community.
Together, they have committed to create more than 121,500 dementia friends in shops and banks across the UK.
An Alzheimer’s Society study found one in four people with dementia have given up shopping since being diagnosed, even though the majority feel this is the most common activity that enables them to feel part of their community.
Operations manager for the North East, Hazel Cuthbertson, said: “From being more patient with a customer paying at a till point to communicating more clearly over the telephone, there are lots of ways dementia friends can help. These actions and interactions could mean the difference between someone remaining an active member of their community rather than potentially becoming isolated in their own home.”
Terry Duddy, chief excecutive of Home Retail Group, which owns Argos and Homebase, explained: “We want to help people living with dementia stay in their own homes and be part of their local community for longer.”
Sacha Berendji, Marks & Spencer retail director, added: “We will be empowering all 60,000 of our store colleagues to become dementia friends over the course of the year.”
Graham Lindsay, director, responsible business at Lloyds Banking Group, concluded: “Alongside Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve led the development of a charter to help the financial services industry become more dementia-friendly.”
Meanwhile, branch managers from Newcastle Building Society have adopted the Alzheimer’s Society as their charity for the year and taken part in information sessions.