Today marks the start of Dementia Action Week, which aims to highlight the simple things we can all do to help improve the lives of those affected by dementia. Around 850,000 people in the UK currently live with the disease and someone is diagnosed every three minutes. That means there’s a good chance you’ll know someone who is affected.
In January 2019, CCWater was delighted to become a dementia-friendly organisation. We are passionate about ensuring everyone receives the help and support they need from us and their water company, regardless of their circumstances.
Becoming a dementia-friendly organisation has provided us with the opportunity to deliver a number of awareness-raising sessions, which our employees have really valued. During the training, more than half of our staff revealed they knew someone who has dementia and, as a result, they felt the sessions would help them support their colleagues, friends, family and customers.
It’s great to see that the focus on understanding dementia is being replicated across the water industry, with all utility companies now pledging to become dementia-friendly and implement the good practice recommendations in the Dementia Friendly Utilities guide (pdf).
The guide (pdf) has been released as a result of the Alzheimer’s Society’s efforts to improve standards for those living with the disease, after its own research revealed utility providers were not providing sufficient support.
Staff from water companies interact with customers on a daily basis, which means they are well placed to make a big difference to people with dementia – particularly those struggling with communication.
We’d like to see these simple steps implemented by all water companies to ensure they are supporting customers living with dementia:
- Make bills and other communication transparent, clear and simple
- Allow customers or their carer to determine how they prefer to be contacted.
When working in the local community:
- Provide clear signage to help people navigate around disruption, such as maintenance work.
- minimise blocking paths and pavements which could result in people having to walk in the road.
- Provide advance warning where possible to help people prepare ahead of time.
- Ensure local vulnerable customers are identified and then supported if there are any outages.
- provide clear information packs about what to do in case of an emergency or disruption.
- Raise awareness of dementia – enable staff to become dementia friends
- Support their employees living with dementia
- Have a safeguarding policy for the welfare of employees and customers
- Ensure all staff follow the UKRN-OPG guidance on Powers of Attorney.
- We are supporting Dementia Action Week because we know first-hand the difference that can be made by raising awareness. You can join the conversation on social media by following the hashtag #DAW2019.
To find out more about dementia, or how your organisation can become dementia friendly, visit Dementia Friends.