Supporting the Alzheimer’s Society’s Campaign for Retailers to be ‘Dementia Friendly’

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Eight out of ten of the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK list shopping as their favourite activity. A fact which should make all retailers happy. However, research carried out by the Alzheimer’s Society has found that many people living with dementia don’t think retailers are doing enough to help them and, since being diagnosed, sadly one in four have given up shopping.

To address this the Alzheimer’s Society invited a group of retailers to produce a guide for all retailers, published today, on how they can become more ‘Dementia Friendly’. Sainsbury’s was delighted to be asked to chair that group.

We know our customers better than anyone else, and from talking to those living with dementia we know that many rely on retail services to maintain their independence and a good quality of life.  And others just like going shopping, and want to be able to continue to do so for as long as possible.  They may do this independently, or with their families or carers. However, they cannot do this without us making it easier for them.

We pride ourselves on our commitment to disability, and as such, we ensure that dementia is an area of focus within our disability awareness training provided to colleagues, and when developing products and services. Every week our stores the length and breadth of the UK do assisted shops to support customers who want additional help.

Just a couple of weeks ago there was an example of what a difference the training makes when a lady living with dementia went shopping in our Shorehead store. She had filled a basket with shopping, and then forgot what to do next, and was becoming distressed. Due to the training colleagues in the store realised that she may have dementia. They calmed her down and stayed with her until the police came to take her home.

In addition to training and assisted shopping, a number of our stores are doing other work to become dementia friendly. We’re currently running a ‘Slow Shopping’ trial in our Gosforth store every Tuesday from 1-3pm. During this time extra chairs and help points are provided in store to help customers who need more time to do their shopping.   Our Coldhams Lane store hosts an Alzheimer’s Society dementia café each month, and other stores host events run by the Alzheimer’s Society to inform customers about the support available in their community.

Our vision is to be the most inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop. So as well as, supporting customers with dementia we pride ourselves on supporting colleagues with dementia and supporting colleagues who are carers.  We were one of the first FTSE 100 companies to introduce a 'carers policy to support colleagues with caring responsibilities. 

If you, or someone you know would like assistance with their shopping please ask someone at the customer service desk in your local store.

See below a film we made with the Alzheimer’s Society to inform colleagues about the needs of customers living with dementia. 

Blog from Tim Fallowfield, Company Secretary and Board Sponsor for Disability, Age and Carers.