Local businesses pledge support for Dementia Friendly Community

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Western Isles businesses recently pledged their support to becoming part of a Dementia Friendly Community.

NHS Western Isles is currently working in partnership with local businesses across the Western Isles that have an ambition to become Dementia Friendly. The Dementia Friendly initiative aims to give public recognition and support to shops, businesses and towns across the Western Isles that are taking steps towards being more inclusive towards people with dementia.

The first five businesses pledged their support to the scheme at the launch of the ‘Dementia Friendly Community’ initiative in the Western Isles on Friday (September 20). The local businesses are Anderson MacArthur (Solicitors), K.J. Macdonald (Pharmacy), W.J. Macdonald (Butcher), Bank of Scotland Stornoway branch, and Spar/Manor Filling Station. The businesses were presented with special plaques and leaflets for staff with tips for becoming dementia friendly.

Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Sandy Matheson, kindly opened the event held in the Caladh Inn in Stornoway, and gave a talk to those present about the importance of the initiative. Mr Matheson described the businesses who have already signed up as ‘progressive’, not just in terms of the services they provide, but in relation to their commitment to looking after other people within the community.

He explained: “You have all signed up to looking after your customers and developing a real sense of community. What you are doing is so important. You are now the first certificated ambassadors for this wonderful movement in the Western Isles, which I hope will spread once others see what you are doing. This will help keep people in the community as part of the community, which is good for both the person and the community itself.”

It is envisaged that a Dementia Friendly Community is one that shows a high level of public awareness and understanding so that people with dementia and their carers are encouraged to seek help and are supported by their community. Such communities are therefore more inclusive of people with dementia, and improve their ability to remain independent and have choice and control over their lives.

The Dementia Friendly Communities programme focuses on improving the inclusion and quality of life of people with dementia. In these communities, people will be aware of and understand more about dementia; people with dementia and their carers will be encouraged to seek help and support; and people with dementia will feel included in their community, be more independent and have more choice and control over their lives.

The businesses/shops that sign up to becoming part of a Dementia Friendly Community in the Western Isles will work alongside the Western Isles Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant to agree an action plan to help make sure no one goes through dementia on their own.

Anne Hutchison, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant said: “People living with dementia tell us that getting out and keeping their social connections is important for them to maintain their quality of life. Most say they want to keep using local shops and services but worry about how they will manage.

“We are encouraging shops, services and businesses to do some very simple things, such as learning about dementia and how they can offer that little bit of extra assistance that can make all the difference to their customer.”

Other shops and businesses interested in signing up to the initiative can contact Anne Hutchison either by email on anne.hutchison2@nhs.net or by telephoning on 01851 708039 for an informal chat about how she can work with you to help make your business more dementia friendly.