Dementia Friendly Retail

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As the largest independent retailer in the region, we've pledged to become dementia friendly, and have embarked on a programme of colleague training and awareness-raising throughout our stores and office. 

There are over 50,000 people diagnosed as living with dementia in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and in a survey carried out by Alzheimer's UK, 23% of participants said that they have had to stop shopping as a result of living with dementia. 

Working in partnership with the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and the Essex Alzheimer’s Society, our 4,700 employees are taking part in training to become Dementia Friends. Every one of our colleagues will be taking part in online training or face-to-face to sessions throughout the year. 

As well as the specially designed training programme, we're also holding a workplace challenge for our colleagues called ‘Shopping in their Shoes’. They’ll gather a basic shopping list, before paying for the items at the till, whilst wearing an ageing – or ‘GERT’ – suit.

These ageing suits replicate a number of age-related conditions, distorting the senses through reduced eyesight and hearing, as well as making movement more difficult with weights fitted to joints.

Shopping in their Shoes

Those that have already taken part in the challenge found it a really valuable experience, giving them insight into the challenges of shopping with the impairments that many of us may experience as we get older.

Darren Wash, Manager at our Felixstowe store, took part in the Shopping in their Shoes challenge in October 2014. He felt that the experience highlighted the isolation and vulnerability that some of our older customers might feel:

"I'm more aware as a result of the experience - not just about the physical challenges of shopping, but also the importance of connecting with other people. For some of our customers, we might be the only human interaction they’ve had all week.
"It also made me think about the practical ways that we can make the shopping experience better for all our customers – whether it’s customer service or the process of paying and packing at the tills. I’m certainly going to be putting what I have learnt into practice, and will encourage other colleagues to do the same”.
Darren Wash, Store Manager at Felixstowe

Find out about the work we do with Jack Brock to help those living with dementia in our local area.