As the Alzheimer’s Society launches its Dementia-Friendly Finance Guide, we look at the changes businesses need to make…
The Alzheimer’s Society has launched its Dementia-Friendly Finance and Insurance Guide. The guide, developed with leading financial institutions, helps businesses to support and empower people with dementia to manage their finances for as long as possible and stay in work for longer.
By 2021, there will be more than one million people with dementia in the UK, so becoming dementia-friendly not only supports people living in their community, but also ensures financial organisations are preparing for the future. The number of working carers will also have to increase. By making changes now, businesses will be anticipating a growing need from customers and employees.
The guide will also help employees to have a greater understanding of potential scenarios and barriers customers may face and as a result, organisations will be able to provide better customer service and reduce the number of complaints or repeat contact.
People with dementia have the right to live a life they want and continue to access basic services – but the Alzheimer’s Society hears too often that people with dementia and their carers fall victim to a lack of knowledge and understanding from the financial services industry. This can lead to them feeling isolated in their communities, unable to continue with day-to-day tasks such as remembering passwords and using self-service machines. In worst-case scenarios people have been cut off from their bank, unable to manage their finances.
Organisations and businesses should also be equipped to support any employees who have dementia to continue working for as long as possible. Supporting people to work makes good business sense and is part of long-term planning for an ageing society with an increasing retirement age.
Roy Lewis was recently diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies, and continues to work at HSBC as a senior distribution change manager. Mr Lewis explained how HSBC is supporting employees and customers affected by dementia: “This guide is important because it gives practical examples on what needs to be done to support people with dementia and why. Finance can be difficult at the best of times and this guide will stretch companies to achieve higher standards, learning from each other for the better of society overall.
“Simple steps such as providing staff with Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends training or ensuring they are kept up to date on the power of attorney processes and deputyship orders will protect vulnerable customers and their carers, as well as financial services employees.
“The relationship I have built with my line manager has been excellent and I feel really supported. We have arranged simple items such as flexible working patterns, desk areas with good natural lighting, as well as a car park space to make my journey to work easier.”
Benefits for all
The guide was launched at the Royal College of Physicians in London and as well as hearing from people affected by dementia at the event, attendees also heard from experts from across the profession talking about the benefits of becoming dementia-friendly. This included head of consumer insight at the Financial Conduct Authority, Sarah MacKenzie; chairman of the Lending Standards Board, Chris Pond; and head of customer and client accessibility at Barclays, Kathryn Townsend.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia can devastate lives and it is vital that people with dementia are enabled and empowered to live the life they want in their community. Interacting with their bank, financial service provider or insurer can be a challenging process for people living with dementia, their families and carers.
“Not only is it important that they are properly supported, it also makes good business sense to be dementia-friendly. With support and adjustments from financial service providers, people affected can continue to independently manage their finances and access insurance that meets their needs.
“We need the whole sector to unite against dementia by committing to the actions outlined in [the] Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia-friendly financial services guide and make their employees Dementia Friends, so no one has to face dementia alone.”
There are already more than 12,700 organisations signed up to the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends – a significant proportion of the 2.7 million-plus Dementia Friends who are tackling stigma and empowering people affected to be included and involved in their communities. But more needs to be done.
The Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the finance profession to unite against dementia and commit to becoming dementia friendly. To download the full guide, visit: bit.ly/2CRsGHr