With a recent study highlighting optometrists’ concern that not enough training and support is provided to examine people with dementia, Specsavers now has at least one Dementia Friend in each of its stores across the UK.
The Dementia Friends initiative is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and involves completion of an online information session which covers all aspects of the condition and how it affects people. Specsavers’ target of having at least one Dementia Friend per store was achieved just ahead of Dementia Awareness Week (15-21 May).
Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers clinical spokesperson, says: ‘Patients with a dementia diagnosis may not be able to recognise or articulate the issues that many of us face when we begin to lose our sight – but the effects are the same. Sight loss can be isolating and confusing for those with dementia, which is why we recommend regular eye health assessments.’
Laura Stallerbrass, store manager at Specsavers Forfar, has encouraged all her team to become Dementia Friends.
She explains: ‘Our store demographic consists mainly of elderly patients and we understand that, as a nation, we are developing an ageing population. We felt it was crucial that we all were aware of and equipped to better understand the effects and impacts of dementia and apply our knowledge to our practices in store.
‘We aim to provide a safe environment for all our patients and ensure we are creating positive experiences with every visit to store. Every team member has left the course with something different and, collaboratively, we have been able to use the valuable knowledge gained to inform our behaviours – from diary management to store layout and the language that we use.
‘I can definitely see a shift in staff attitude towards our patients who may be showing signs and symptoms associated with dementia. There exists a kinder, more empathic ethos to the store which is lovely to experience.’
David Brett-Williams, store director of Specsavers in Luton said: ‘Being more aware of dementia is an incredibly positive development for our team and our offering to customers. ‘I always thought dementia was all to do with someone’s memory – but it is much more than that. By uncovering the truth about dementia it really opened my eyes to how when performing our daily duties, we can all take a little time to support and care.’
The Prevalence of Visual Impairment in People with Dementia (the PrOVIDe study): a cross-sectional study of people aged 60–89 years with dementia and qualitative exploration of individual, carer and professional perspectives – Michael Bowen, David F Edgar, Beverley Hancock, Sayeed Haque, Rakhee Shah, Sarah Buchanan, Steve Iliffe, Susan Maskell, James Pickett, John-Paul Taylor, and Neil O’Leary.
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