The team at Specsavers in Wickford is celebrating being better qualified to understand the needs of customers suffering from dementia for a year.

All six members of staff at the local Wickford opticians, located at 44 High Street, have taken part in the training over the past 12 months as part of a nationwide Specsavers initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Supporting customers with dementia

In doing so, they have become recognised as a Dementia Friend, with a badge to wear on their uniforms to indicate their increased level of dementia awareness to customers. Specsavers’ home-visiting teams are also completing the training.

Steve Morris, dispensing optician manager of Specsavers in Wickford, said: ‘Being more aware of dementia has been an incredibly positive development for our team and our offering to customers.

‘Over the past year we’ve learnt that dementia is not only to do with someone’s memory, it is much more than that. By uncovering the truth about dementia we have really been able to take the time necessary to support and care for those customers affected.’

Comprehensive training

The comprehensive training covered all aspects of dementia and discusses how it affects people in different ways. With particular relevance to Specsavers, it also describes how senses can be affected, including sight and hearing.

Those with dementia commonly experience problems with their sight and visual perception, causing them to misinterpret the world around them. Some sufferers can experience hallucinations. Research has revealed that almost half[1] of dementia patients in care homes are wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, leading to increased isolation and confusion.

Specsavers is urging anyone over the age of 55 to undergo regular hearing tests as research suggests that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Hearing tests at Specsavers are free.

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[1] The Prevalence of Visual Impairment in People with Dementia (the PrOVIDe study): a cross-sectional study of people aged 60–89 years with dementia and qualitative exploration of individual, carer and professional perspectives - Michael Bowen, David F Edgar, Beverley Hancock, Sayeed Haque, Rakhee Shah, Sarah Buchanan, Steve Iliffe, Susan Maskell, James Pickett, John-Paul Taylor, and Neil O’Leary. (July 16)