BRACE is working with a campaign group and a firm of solcitors to launch a campaign which will help 100 businesses in Bristol become dementia friendly places to work and visit.

The ‘Dementia – It’s Your Business’ initiative, run by  BRACE in partnership with theBristol Dementia Action Alliance (BDAA), is calling on businesses to make simple changes around signage, lighting, flooring and seating to help people with dementia better navigate their way around.

The campaign is the next step towards achieving the goal set by BDAA of making Bristol THE dementia friendly city in the UK.

People living with dementia often avoid going to public places for fear of getting confused or lost, but simple changes to the built environment can make a big difference.

Mark Poarch, Chief Executive of BRACE, encouraged 100 local businesses to sign up to the campaign. He said, “Most people with dementia live in our communities and they, their families and their carers are either existing or potential customers of local businesses. Businesses are an essential part of our communities and through small and inexpensive changes they can make a big difference to their staff and customers alike.

“A recent survey found that 49 per cent of the public say they are more likely to support a company if they are aware it supports people living with dementia. This is good for business and it’s the right thing to do.”

Campaigner and carer Tony Hall, of the Bristol Dementia Action Alliance (BDAA), said the campaign would help put Bristol on the map as the most dementia friendly city in the UK. He said, “We are steadily shedding the stigma, embarrassment and denial that have surrounded dementia for decades. Making workplaces and businesses part of that revolution is the next step. Sadly most people will know someone affected by dementia so this really is in all our interests to tackle. We want 100 Bristol businesses to sign up for a start and join us in making the city a less frightening place for people living with dementia.

“Being a dementia friendly business is not just a tick-box exercise. Neither is it just about the way we speak to those living with dementia, it’s much more than that. Do we know what dementia is? Do we recognise and understand how the disease affects individuals? Are our buildings, processes and procedures helpful to those with dementia or a hindrance? Making our businesses dementia friendly will not just help people living with dementia, it will also help people with other disabilities, in fact it will help everyone.”

The campaign also includes guidelines for customer-facing staff to understand better how to respond to someone living with dementia.

For instance, at a checkout if someone is having trouble counting out their money or using their debit card the staff member should be patient, and without being intrusive, help them to count out their money. They should also avoid rushing them, raising eyebrows or tutting. If someone with dementia is exhibiting speech repetitiveness - a common symptom – the staff member should be patient and let them say the same thing again. This will help with their self esteem, especially if they are not cut them off mid sentence. The campaign highlights many simple changes, methods and techniques that business can use to make life for people with dementia so much better.

‘Dementia – It’s Your Business’ is being launched at Bristol law firm Clarke Willmott on March 15. Clarke Willmott is one of the first firms to sign up to the campaign.

Kevin Jones, Partner at Clarke Willmott, said, “It is becoming increasingly important that businesses start to recognise this cruel disease so we are delighted to be supporting this programme.” 

The initial campaign workshop runs from 9.30am to 11am on Tuesday 15th March at Clarke Willmott’s offices at 1 Georges Square, Bristol BS1 6BA. Speakers will be Tony Hall of BDAA, Professor Stephen Lisney from BRACE, and Kevin Jones and Heledd Wyn from Clarke Willmott.

The workshop is free and it’s easy to register. Just email [email protected]