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Age at work blog: Dementia awareness – essential training for an inclusive future?

Published on 02 October 2020 05:30 PM

By Sandra Brown, Age Scotland’s Dementia Training Co-ordinator

In a rapidly ageing society which will see dementia rates double over the next 30 years, understanding the challenges faced by people living with dementia will become a requirement in all walks of life. Parents, partners, neighbours, friends, colleagues and employees will be among the 200,000 people predicted to be living with dementia in Scotland by 2050 and it is everyone’s responsibility to make the world a more positive and dementia inclusive place.

Organisations and businesses of all kinds are taking this responsibility increasingly seriously and are investing in dementia awareness training for staff teams. Benefits for employees can be felt at home, in the community and in the workplace. Colleagues caring for family members with dementia can gain skills and knowledge to support them in this vital role. The reduction in stress this brings and the greater understanding on the part of employers gained through training can often mean less time off for carers and a more positive working experience.

As people begin to retire later, there are also benefits for working people living with dementia and their employers. If signs and symptoms are recognised and colleagues know the appropriate support to offer, goals can be accomplished and fulfilment achieved despite the challenges of dementia.

Greater dementia awareness in workplaces can also lead to innovations in processes, practices and physical spaces, transforming the experience of customers and clients living with dementia and ensuring their contact with you is a positive experience.

Giving your staff the opportunity to undertake dementia awareness training enables them to develop the communication skills they need to build trust and confidence in conversations and interactions with clients. Depending on their role this can be face-to-face, on the phone or online. It can mainly be about speaking, or it can involve producing written resources or creating dementia inclusive spaces or events.

As part of Age Scotland’s dementia training team, I have the pleasure of designing and delivering this training to workplaces across the country. Currently, all our courses are delivered to groups of up to 16 employees online, but soon we hope to resume our face-to-face delivery too. Every organisation and course is different, but training is always interactive, relevant – and enjoyable!

Dementia presents considerable challenges but learning how we can support people affected by it to live and work as they want to is a hopeful topic and people leave our courses feeling positive and empowered. Awareness and understanding provide the keys to making a difference.

Dementia is becoming a bigger part of all our lives and the onus is on organisations to be as dementia inclusive as possible. Your systems, products, physical spaces and customer services need to be accessible, approachable and stress-free for clients and employees affected by dementia. This ultimately improves customer and employee satisfaction, contributes to meeting obligations under equalities and human rights legislation and builds a positive reputation for your business for inclusive service and practices.

For more information on Age Scotland’s Dementia Awareness workplace training and to find out about our new virtual open workshops, visit age.scot/earlystagedementiaworkshops

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