There are estimated to be around 300 people in Oxted living with Dementia and research shows that most people with memory problems change their shopping habits, or even stay at home. They can lose confidence in going out alone leading to social isolation. However, small changes in their day to day interactions encourage them to maintain independence.

Surrey County Council, Tandridge Locality, are therefore inviting local businesses to play a part in making Oxted a Dementia Friendly Community.

What is Dementia?
Dementia is not a disease but an umbrella term for a number of diseases (over 100) that manifest in various ways. These include difficulties with speech, processing conversations, changed spatial awareness or disorientation caused by light or noise.

What is a Dementia Friendly Community?
“A city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported, and confident they can contribute to community life. In a dementia friendly community (DFC) people will be aware of and understand dementia, and people with dementia will feel included and involved, and have choice and control over their day-to-day lives”.

Lesley Thomas, Social Care Development Worker at Tandridge Locality, is developing this initiative in Oxted. The DFC Steering Group is chaired by Cllr Cameron McIntosh and an Action Plan has been developed.

What are the benefits to retailers and businesses?
By making small changes, you can retain and build on existing custom. Your reputation in the community is improved and your staff will be more confident and upskilled in dealing with a wide range of customers.

How local organisations can get involved:

Even small actions are valuable. Businesses can choose from:

  • Training staff through the Dementia Friends initiative to be aware and take action where needed. Small changes such as being patient with customers can avoid distress. Lesley Thomas can help provide these free sessions.
  • Carrying out a physical audit of their premises to ensure navigating the premises is clear. Often it is easy to find a way into the toilets, but not so easy to find the way out. Coloured mats and mirrors can confuse perception. Lesley can provide a self-audit checklist to do this.
  • Attend a Dementia Friendly Awareness session – find out more here.

Links for further information:

Dementia Friendly Communities: www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-friendly-communities

Dementia Friends: www.dementiafriends.org.uk/