Dr David Crichton blog: Caring shop helped dementia patient

007Published every Monday in the Doncaster Star:

‘Doncaster is working to become Dementia Friendly.’

You may have seen this sign in shops and buildings around the borough and wondered what it means?

In simple terms, it’s a commitment from organisations across all walks of local life to try and make times easier for those who have dementia, from shopkeepers giving a helping hand to someone struggling to count out the coins they need to need to pay for goods, to bus drivers ensuring a passenger gets off at their corrects stop, and much more.

It’s a statement of intent, but I’m delighted to see that it is being put into practise as more Doncaster people are being trained to become Dementia Friends and develop a better understanding of the disease and how it affects people.

I’ve been made aware of an excellent example of this helping attitude in action at a supermarket directly opposite my surgery in Bentley. A member of staff at Tesco Express on High Street noticed that one elderly customer was making up to three visits a day to the store to buy the same products and spending up to £30 each time.

The eagle-eyed store assistant became concerned when she noticed that this happened consistently over a two week period. She reminded the customer that she had already been in before earlier that day to buy the same items that she had in her basket, but she couldn’t remember.

The store rang the Alzheimer’s Society who contacted the lady’s relatives and made them aware. It’s a great story of the local community looking out for one of its own and really reassuring to know that front line retail staff have such a good awareness of the potential signs and symptoms of dementia.

The supermarket manager, Chris Shepherd, pictured,
takes pride in saying that he runs a local community store. He says his staff know their regular customers and build up a good relationship with them.

Last year, Tesco were the first supermarket nationally to introduce dementia friendly checkouts to support people who have the disease. It highlights how business is responding to the call for action.

Research indicates that Alzheimer’s and dementia are among the most feared diseases associated with getting older and greater than the fear of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

But we know that it is possible for people to live well with dementia if they are diagnosed early and receive support.  Latest figures for Doncaster show that 2,605 people have been diagnosed with the disease but we reckon for a town our size that some 910 have dementia but have not yet been diagnosed. Doncaster’s current diagnosis rate is 74.1 per cent.

This year’s Dementia Awareness Week takes place 15th -21st May and Doncaster is getting ready to stage a lot of awareness raising activities, which you can find out more about at www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk/news. You can become a Dementia Friend by visiting www.dementiafriends.org.uk


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