Following Dementia Awareness Week last month, opticians at Halifax Specsavers are supporting Dementia Friends, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative, to help people develop an understanding of dementia. They are completing a Dementia awareness programme.

There are two levels of accreditation, and staff have now completed the first stage, becoming recognised as a Dementia Friends, with a badge to wear on their uniforms to indicate their increased level of dementia awareness to their customers.

Learning more will help our customers
Phil Garbe, store director of Specsavers in Halifax says: ‘Being more aware of dementia is an incredibly positive development for our team and our offering to customers.

‘Dementia affects so much more than the memory. By uncovering the truth about dementia I learned what day to day actions our team could take to support our customers with dementia.’

The first part of the Dementia Friends training is completed online via a series of scenario based videos. The second is a classroom session which builds on the skills, helping participants to establish positive relationships with people with dementia.

Specsavers learning and development manager Samantha Jessop said: ‘By providing dementia awareness training we are taking necessary steps to equip all colleagues with the necessary skills to support all of our customers and continue to provide the same excellent service that we pride ourselves upon, regardless of the personal struggles any of our customers may be facing. I’m delighted we are now offering this as part of our core training offer.’

Dementia can affect the sight and hearing, meaning that it's especially relevant for Specsavers staff to complete this training. 

A word from an expert
Specsavers clinical spokesman Dr Nigel Best added: ‘People with dementia may experience problems with their sight which cause them to misinterpret the world around them. In some cases, those living with dementia can experience hallucinations.

‘Specific types of dementia can also damage the visual system and cause visuoperceptual difficulties. These include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Rarer forms of dementia, such as posterior cortical atrophy can also cause visuoperceptual difficulties. Therefore it is vitally important that we recognise customers with dementia so that we can identify and look after their eyecare needs to the best of our ability.’

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