Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) Yorkshire and Humber will visit its member companies in the region to advise them on how to deal with customers who may have the illness in the most supportive way.
The first session, delivered by a “dementia champion” from the Alzheimer’s Society, is being held for employees at Clarion Solicitors in Leeds on Friday.
Clarion is dedicated to raising awareness of the issues surrounding dementia. As part of this, it is sponsoring this year’s Yorkshire Post Christmas Appeal, an online auction which is running over five weeks to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
The firm has one of the biggest private client departments in the region, advising on a wide range of mental capacity issues such as power of attorney, paying and planning for care, and wills.
Clare King, senior associate legal executive, at Clarion, said: “We are running the awareness session to make all our support staff aware of the needs of people who have dementia.
“We already have a specialist front-of-house team who are aware of clients with dementia but we know that firms can make small changes to make themselves more dementia-friendly.”
She added: “The whole firm is aware of the basic principles of Mental Capacity Act but anyone who feels it’s particularly relevant to them will be encouraged to join in the awareness training.
We have a commitment to making sure we deliver the best service we can.”
According to DAA, there are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and this number is set to grow to over one million people by 2025.
The financial cost of dementia in the UK is £23bn each year and growing.
Mrs King said: “There are small changes that companies can make to help people with dementia, such as introducing clear signs for the toilets and making exits easily identifiable.
“When talking to clients or customers with dementia, staff should also give more time for them to respond so they don’t feel under pressure.
“It’s about taking a step away from the fast pace of everyday life.”
Clarion, which employs 120 staff, already works to provide better access to legal services for people with dementia.
Mrs King is a member of the national association Solicitors for the Elderly, an association of lawyers which specialises in providing legal services for older people and their carers.
The firm also provides information about the Mental Capacity Act to community groups, charities and care home staff.
The Act assumes that every adult is able to make their own decisions, unless it has been shown otherwise. If a person lacks capacity, any decisions taken on their behalf must be the option least restrictive to their rights and freedoms.
Mrs King said: “We are building up access to make legal services available to everyone and not just those who can afford them and know where to find them.”
She added: “People should not have access to legal services restricted. It’s not just about business, it’s about recognising every stage of a client’s needs.”
As part of this commitment, Clarion is a member of Bequest, the Leeds-based private client lawyers’ group, which provides access to legal services.
Other members of the group are Morrish Solicitors, Simpson Millar and Wrigleys Solicitors.
Dementia Action Alliance is made up of over 700 organisations committed to transforming the quality of life of people living with dementia and the people who care for them.
Clarion launched the Yorkshire branch of the DAA at its city centre office last year.
Visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/appeal to make your auction bid.