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Do you work with the public in the retail sector or financial services

The Source in Thurles is the venue for a number of free dementia awareness workshops for staff in the retail and financial services sectors being organised during February and March.

The workshops, which will be presented by Ursula Paine, CAMEO Care, and Jennifer Manning, from the Community Hospital of the Assumption in Thurles, are part of the ongoing Dementia: Understand Together initiative to create better understanding and awareness about the condition.

Approximately 4,000 people, or an average of 11 people every day, develop dementia in Ireland each year. Indeed, there are over half a million people who have had a family member with dementia, yet research shows that many of us do not fully understand the condition.

The dementia awareness workshops are completely free with the workshops for the retail sector taking place in February on three consecutive Fridays – February 9, 16 and 23 from 2pm to 5pm – and workshops for financial services’ staff taking place on three consecutive Fridays in March – March 2, 9 and 16 from 2pm to 5pm. For more information, contact Ursula Paine on 086 8381818.

For Ursula Paine, Nurse Manager, CAMEO Care in Thurles, these workshops will hopefully support people with dementia to continue to live well in the community: “We know that there are about 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland right now – a number that is set to more than double by 2040 – and that approximately two-thirds of these are living in the community. These workshops are all about providing staff who work with the public day in and day out, with a better understanding of dementia, perhaps recognising someone with dementia who comes into their shop, supermarket, café or financial institution, and how best to support that person.

“For example, signs of dementia could include if someone is having trouble remembering names or details like their address, is finding it difficult to communicate what they need or want, or is having difficulty navigating their way around. We want to try to lift some of the misunderstanding that sometimes confronts people with dementia, so that they feel more included in our communities and make life that little bit better for them.”

For Jennifer Manning, Clinical Nurse Manager, Community Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles, the workshops offer really practical ideas for shops and banks to better support customers: “We know that shopping is one of the big activities that people with dementia living in the community continue to do, and we also know that being able to manage our finances is key to our independence. With these two workshops, we explore some of the situations in which customers might find themselves in a shop or bank, and offer some ideas to participants as to how to make their environments more dementia-inclusive.

“For example, in a shop it could be about ensuring that signage is clear and visible, or having seating, good lighting and being aware of noise levels. In a financial institution, it might be around identifying signs of financial abuse and how to engage supportive communication skills and best work with relatives. Changes to the environment, combined with staff trained in dementia awareness who smile warmly, speak clearly and listen carefully to what a person is saying, and give them extra time as needed, can really help someone with dementia to continue to live independently.”

The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Genio. The campaign website offers a comprehensive information resource on dementia, including a service-finder detailing county-by-county the dementia supports and services available. It also offers a range of training resources for carers, and for businesses and organisations in the retail, transport, public and financial sectors. Support packs, including posters, leaflets and badges, can be ordered also. Simply visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freephone 1800 341 341.

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