It was World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September and as part of our pledge to be a more dementia friendly organisation by 2020, we wanted to tell you about some of the changes we have made.
During the past year, we have been training staff – including those in our contact centre - to understand dementia better and feel more confident. Staff reported the training to be ‘an eye opener’, and it has resulted in improved engagement between staff and customers living with dementia.
One staff member in the contact centre told us about two customers in particular that they would regularly get calls from:
“Some days we would get more than 20 calls [from the two customers], one after the other. We would respond to [their] requests in our regular way and provide the information the customers wanted. But being frequently asked for the same thing again and again can get frustrating.
“After we did the Dementia Friends session, we decided to change our approach. Rather than just answer the questions and end the call as usual, we tried to engage the customers in conversation, and make sure they felt calm. Their emotional state at the end of the call became just as important to us as ensuring we provided accurate information. We developed a better customer relationship and it helps both sides feel better.”
Another staff member based at our regeneration site in Aylesbury invited local residents to attend two Dementia Friends training sessions. She had previously held resident meetings at the site, and had four times as many people attend:“
And when it was over, the residents stayed talking to one another, sharing stories of caring for family members living with dementia. People who had lived near one another, but had never talked, had something in common and became friends.”
“Since then we have residents engaging with us more, they say they can relate to us more. We are no longer a faceless organisation [to them]; they see us as people too, and they feel more comfortable contacting us about housing issues.”