How to get involved as a business or service provider

Businesses and service providers can make a big difference to the quality of life of people with dementia and their families. Being dementia inclusive is about supporting and enabling people with dementia to be actively engaged in their community.

Becoming more dementia inclusive is a socially responsible step. It will improve the customer experience as a whole and bring economic benefits, too.

Who is involved

Join over 40 organisations across Ireland from sectors including retail, transport, banking, health and the voluntary and community sector leading the way in creating dementia inclusive communities.

What is good for people with dementia is good for everyone.

Dementia affects over 500,000 families in Ireland. Your actions will support customers, service users, employees and volunteers.

Here are 6 actions that you or others in your business or service can take

The diagnosis of dementia is life-changing. But the person does not become the illness. That is why it is important that you don't treat someone differently because of the diagnosis.

1. See the person, not the Dementia

What you can do

  • Listen to people living with dementia and their families to help you understand their perspective
  • Communicate directly with the person with dementia.
  • Be inclusive of a person with dementia when speaking with other family members or in a group. Speak clearly and calmly - so that the person has enough time to understand information.
  • Don’t assume that because a person has dementia they are no longer able to do day-to-day tasks or take part in social activities. They may just need extra support or additional time.
  • A person’s ability may change over the time of the disease, so how you engaged or helped last time may not be effective this time. You may need to change your approach.

2. Talk about Dementia

The more people know about dementia and how they can actively support this movement, the bigger the impact will be.

Language is a powerful tool. You can use it to

  • Engage people in conversations about dementia
  • Listen to the voice of a person with dementia
  • Challenge stereotypes and negative attitudes
  • Raise awareness of dementia by organising awareness sessions in your organisation
  • Let people know about your dementia inclusive initiatives 

3. Ask how you can help

Have you ever been in a situation where you would have liked someone to ask how can I help you”?

Imagine what a day for a person with dementia and their families is like. How this simple question could transform it. Only by asking, will you find out how you can be of support? You may be surprised that it is the little things that make a big difference.

What you can do

  • Ask if the person needs help with their daily tasks
  • Support them with errands. For example, if a person has a shopping list, offer to assist them in finding items. Don’t take over. Bring a person to where the products are and show them a few options
  • A person with dementia may have difficulty recognising coins and banknotes. Offer to help by counting out money.
  • For cash-free transactions, offer a signature option rather than a pin for customers.
  • Be patient and give the person time.
  • Offer to walk with them to where they want to go

4.Stay in Touch

Relationships are important to everyone in life. The same applies to those diagnosed with dementia and their families. It is vital not to stay away because of dementia and to continue to be in touch.

Think about how you engaged before the diagnosis, and how you engage now? The person with dementia is still a person. Your relationship does not need to end, because dementia started.

What you can do

  • Let people know about the changes you have made to your business or service so they know the service is accessible to them
  • If a person once attended your service but has since stopped, you could make contact with them, or a family member if appropriate, to see if you can do anything to support them to continue to use your service
  • Invite a person to information sessions, events or launches you are holding 

5. Support the person to keep up hobbies and interests

Keeping active and enjoying hobbies is a vital part of life. To stay involved in community life and continue to socialise is important.

Dementia does not mean someone must stop doing the things they love, but as time goes on, they may need support to do so. Do not underestimate the difference you can make.

Whatever the interest may be, having the choice to continue doing them can bring extra joy to life.

What you can do

  • Support the person by encouraging participation.
  • Look at your surroundings and ensure they are welcoming and inclusive
  • Make sure signage is clear and easy to understand
  • Let people know about the changes you have made to the service so they know it is accessible to them
  • Provide transport to an event or activity

6. Make sure your service or space is easy to use

“Put yourself in their shoes". See your service through the eyes of someone with dementia.

This helps you understand the challenges a person with dementia may have when using services or accessing spaces. It may also change your attitude towards that person or what you do as a result.

What you can do

  • Talk to people with dementia and their families and find out what would help and support them
  • Include people with dementia and their family members in the design of new or existing services or spaces
  • Talk to your staff members and hear their thought of how they can support a person with dementia and their family.
  • Make sure signage in your business or service is clear and easy to understand
  • Make sure your building has as much light as possible to aid with vision and depth perception
  • Consider having a designated ‘quiet’ room that people with dementia can use or reduce background noise

Helpful resources to get you started