Is your organisation structured to well support customers affected by dementia?
While considering our own practices alongside the Chartered Insurance Institute Dementia-friendly Good Practice Guide, we thought it would be helpful to share some of the key points:
1. Provide staff with relevant training.
By improving staff awareness about dementia, employees should be able to provide better support and customer
service. As well as training customer-facing staff on how to better identify and support customers living with dementia, encourage at least 60% of all employees to become Dementia Friends and a Dementia Friends Champion (though all ideally).
If everyone across your whole organisation understands a little about dementia they can support employees going through this. Partnering with a charity (like Alzheimer’s Society) or joining your local Dementia Friendly Community will also keep employees up to date on any recent developments, as well as maintaining their awareness on how to provide helpful support. This could include whether a carer/partner/family member has been appointed as an LPA or ‘deputy’. As these roles have to be applied for officially, employees need to be aware of how to support customers if this process is in motion, or how to manage a customer’s details once this responsibility has been officially recognised.
Staff should also to be able to recognise whether their customer may be the victim of financial abuse. If a customer is vulnerable, they may not be able to recognise if they are being taken advantage of or abused. Employees should know how to flag a potential situation to safeguard their customer. All procedures should always comply with legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 2018 which protects the sharing of information.
2. Create products that recognise the diverse needs of customers.
Products and services are sometimes created with a ‘one size fits all’ approach that does not take into
consideration the different circumstances of customers. This is particularly relevant to people with dementia as many products do not meet their needs. Products may be too expensive, not relevant to their diagnosis or they may exclude the needs of those with a diagnosis of dementia. If you do not have anything suitable for your customer, signpost a product or service that better meets their needs.
3. Make information accessible.
Many people struggle with long terms and conditions, or over-detailed descriptions, particularly those who have
dementia. Rather than info-dumping or using technical jargon, create information about products and services that
can be clearly understood in plain English with simple layouts and structure.
Some companies rely on directing customers to websites or a universal telephone number with an automated menu. 3 in 5 people aged over 75 are not online and therefore automatically face digital exclusion. Create a range of options where information can be provided (e.g. leaflets, guides, handy telephone numbers or face to face appointments). Written information can be helpful as a permanent record of an event or conversation which can be re-read as many times as needed and shared with relevant people. This can help reduce anxiety and be a memory prompt.
4. Create a ‘tell me once’ policy.
Customers should only have to disclose their, or their loved ones, diagnosis once. It can be distressing and confusing
for someone affected by dementia having to repeat their diagnosis to several different teams who belong to the same
Once this information is obtained it should be used to help inform staff about what communication options are
preferred by their customer, along with any other information requirements. This should hopefully encourage the
customer to communicate freely and openly in a way that inspires public trust with the firm.
5. Create a welcoming environment.
Sharing and understanding information isn’t the only thing people with dementia may have difficulties with. The actual environment or venue where they have an appointment may present them with a separate range of difficulties.
Simple things like establishing a welcoming environment at the entrance, large and clear signage to and from key points, comfortable seating with armrests to easily get in and out of, quiet spaces and friendly customer service can make all the difference with putting someone at ease. Basic training can also ensure that front of house staff are able to support people who are confused or having difficulties.