It came from a very personal place. My father has dementia and he experienced very bad customer service in a restaurant because of it. I thought I couldn’t ever let that happen at Lifehouse; I want people and their carers to come here and know they will all be looked after and welcomed.
We contacted the Alzheimer’s Society and we spoke to a local lady who was a Dementia Friend Champion. She then came in and delivered six sessions to enable 60 staff to also be Dementia Friends. That includes helping them to understand what to look out for and how to recognise if someone may need help and how to look after them, which is what Lifehouse stands for.
The next stage on from that is that we are going to become part of DAA – the Dementia Action Alliance – to make the environment as dementia friendly as possible. Two of our managers have also become Dementia Friend Champions so we can now deliver dementia knowledge sessions to the rest of our team and hold workshops to enable other people (staff, community and members) to become Dementia Friends. It’s all for charity, it’s all voluntary, and it’s all about getting the message out there.
It’s really about awareness and understanding that dementia can have lots of different impacts on people. So if you see somebody struggling or repeating themselves a lot, or if they seem confused, rather than shrugging it off, ask if they’re ok or if you can help with anything.
We are being mindful of what else can we do to make people feel more comfortable. For example, dementia can change your sense of perception – a dark rug on the floor may appear as a hole in the ground – so can we look at the kind of rugs we have and change the colours for example?
Our staff soaked it up like a sponge from bar staff to housekeepers and the spa team. They were so wonderful and really absorbed the information they were being given. I think it has really added another level to their work with us, and lots of them want to take it further.
I think it’s also important to carers of guests with dementia as well – we want them to feel that they can’t leave their loved one while they go and have a treatment, and know they are safe. It’s not just about Alzheimers and dementia though, that kind of mindfulness has an impact on everyone who visits and works here.
It’s just about making sure that everybody who comes through the door knows they are looked after.
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