A least one employee in every Specsavers practice across the UK has completed training to become a Dementia Friend, a target that has been achieved by the multiple ahead of Dementia Awareness Week this week (15–21 May).
The multiple made the pledge following the publication of the College of Optometrists’ PrOVIDe research, which reported that optometrists were concerned that there was not training or support given when it came to examining people with dementia.
The Dementia Friends initiative, which Specsavers is involved in, is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and involves employees at the multiple completing an online information session covering what the condition is and how it affects people.
Specsavers’ clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best, said: “Patients with a dementia diagnosis may not be able to recognise or articulate the issues that many of us face when we begin to lose our sight – but the effects are the same. Sight loss can be isolating and confusing for those with dementia, which is why we recommend regular eye health assessments.”
While Specsavers has pledged, and achieved, to have at least one Dementia Friend in each of its stores across the UK, it is not capped at this.
Laura Stallerbrass, store manager at Specsavers Forfar, has encouraged all of her team to become Dementia Friends because the store’s patient demographic consists mainly of elderly patients. She explained: “We understand that, as a nation, we are developing an ageing population. Therefore we felt that it was crucial that we were all aware of, and equipped to, better understand the effects and impacts of dementia and apply our knowledge to our practices in store.”
Reflecting on the initiative, Ms Stallerbrass added: “I can definitely see a shift in staff attitude towards our patients who may be showing signs and symptoms associated with dementia. There exists a kinder, more empathic ethos to the store, which is lovely to experience.”