More than 13,400 Pets at Home, Groom Room and Vets4Pets colleagues in all 440 plus stores, including the support office and distribution centres, are to become Dementia Friends through Alzheimer’s Society’s programme.
Ahead of Dementia Action Week, during May 21-27, the retailer in Lanark has partnered with the UK’s leading dementia charity to improve the instore experience for customers living with dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia, and aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about this condition.
All Pets at Home, Groom Room, and Vets4Pets, colleagues at the Lanark store will become Dementia Friends to help better assist customers who may be living with dementia, and will have the knowledge and confidence to approach and help customers who are shopping by themselves or with a loved one. All future Pets at Home employees will become Dementia Friends as standard during their induction programme, marking the retailer’s long-term commitment to supporting customers with the condition.
This has been rolled out nationwide following one employee’s personal experience with the condition. Mike Carey, 37, deputy manager at the Pets at Home store in Foss Island, York, recommended the initiative following his mother’s diagnosis at just 56 years old.
Mike became a Dementia Friend independently, aiming to raise awareness amongst his immediate colleagues and, if possible, further afield within Yorkshire’s Pets at Home stores. His regional manager recognised the importance of the initiative, and following approval from senior members of the business, the programme is now being implemented nationwide.
Mike said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with the rollout of the Dementia Friends programme throughout the business, and I hope the scheme will make a big difference to our customers and colleagues.
“In becoming Dementia Friends, Pets at Home colleagues will be able to recognise when people may be struggling with dementia type symptoms so that they can make shopping an easier, more pleasurable and more importantly an accessible experience for customers who may have this condition.”
Store manager, Catherine Murphy, said: “Our teams always do their best to offer friendly expertise and advice to customers.
“Following the Dementia Friends training, our team will be confident in recognising the signs of the condition, and we really hope that customers and families who are affected by dementia will feel welcomed and comfortable whilst shopping in our store.”
Claire Jenkins, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s fantastic that Pets at Home has committed to the action of supporting their colleagues to become Dementia Friends and it’s a perfect way to mark Dementia Action Week. We hope this encourages other retailers in the UK to do the same.
”In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes and almost everyone knows someone whose life has been affected. Yet too many people face the condition alone, without adequate support. At Alzheimer’s Society we are determined to change this, as it is vital that people living with dementia feel included in their local community and able to live the lives they want.
“For Dementia Action Week, we consulted with hundreds of people affected by dementia and those working to support them to find out the simple actions people can take and those that would make the biggest difference. Something as simple as shop staff, as well as other customers, being a bit more patient will make a huge difference to the day to day lives of people living with dementia. II’s brilliant to have the support of Pets at Home and more Dementia Friends on board to help us in our mission create a dementia-friendly UK.“
Over 2.4million people in the UK have become Dementia Friends since the launch of the initiative. To find out more about Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends and get involved in Dementia Action Week, please visit alzheimers.org.uk/DAW