Sainsbury’s and Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association have joined forces to ensure that retail staff can avail of an innovative dementia care training initiative.
The free retailer training has been specifically developed by Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, which provides a range of high quality accommodation and services to older people throughout Northern Ireland. Many of these older people are affected by dementia. The training is provided by Marsha Tuffin, the charity’s Manager of Care Home & Dementia Services, and the winner of Dementia Personality of the Year at the UK Dementia Awards last year.
Mrs Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield & Wesley Housing Association, explains what the training session involves and how it can benefit staff:
“We are committed to dispelling the myths about, and increasing the understanding of, dementia within local communities. As a result we have introduced a bespoke retailer dementia care training initiative for staff working in local businesses who may have interactions with individuals affected by dementia.
“It is a free-of-charge 45-minute awareness session, concentrating on the effects of dementia and what it is like in the reality of the person with dementia. For example, a person with dementia may forget why they are in the shop, how to pay for goods, or where to get a basket. If retail staff realise that someone is lost in this way, they can help by providing prompts and asking direct questions.
“A person with dementia may also make inappropriate comments. They may consider that they are a young person and things, which may have been socially acceptable to say when they were young, are no longer socially acceptable in today’s society, but in the person’s reality, they are not old.”
Angus O’Neill, Sainsbury’s Forestside store manager, adds: “The training gives practical examples of how to deal with real situations; this can be extremely beneficial for our retail staff in dealing with customers who may be suffering dementia. Not only will other customers see staff dealing with older people in a dignified way, but training may also assist staff in their own personal lives as it is likely that they will personally know someone with dementia in the future and will be aware of how to interact with the individual.”
According to Dementia Services Development Centre Northern Ireland’s “Demography of Dementia in Northern Ireland” (June Andrews, May 2012) there are around 19,000 people with dementia in Northern Ireland. A steady growth in these numbers is expected over the next 25 years, with the figure expected to rise to 61,000 by 2051. Two thirds of those with late onset dementia are women.