Penny Ellis, Telehealthcare Development Consultant at Tunstall, writes about why and how we are becoming a dementia-friendly business.

Here at Tunstall we have worked with Alzheimer’s Society, having supported them to write the Dementia-friendly technology charter, which was produced as part of the Dementia-friendly communities strand of the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia. The Dementia-friendly technology charter is about enabling every person with dementia to have the opportunity to benefit from technology appropriate to their needs.

Tunstall is working hard to become a dementia-friendly business. Part of this includes our Dementia Friends sessions programme. Our aim here is to have 400 people at Tunstall HQ become a Dementia Friend. To achieve this, many of us have trained up to become Dementia Champions, which means we can hold sessions for our colleagues so that they can become Dementia Friends.

We are also raising awareness of dementia in other ways. For example, in February, we held several performances of a play called ‘Unlocking Dementia’ by DARTS (Doncaster Community Arts). The play was remarkable because it was interactive and really got everyone thinking and talking about dementia.

Other things we have done to become dementia-friendly include registering with Employers for Carers and introducing a carers’ policy to help our working carers. We hold webinars and social activities, such as fundraising events and cake bake offs, and we have signed the Time to Change organisational pledge. We have also joined Dementia Action Alliance and are committed to a local action plan that involves me working with Doncaster council and NHS Doncaster CCG to deliver a business-to-business event, to share best practice.

Becoming dementia-friendly is important not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it makes economic sense. In fact, I saw in the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementiathat a study (Cost of dementia to business, Centre for Economic and Business Research) estimated that by 2030, dementia will cost companies more than £3 billion. It also says that the number of people leaving work to care for people with dementia is set to rise from 50,000 in 2014 to 83,100 in 2030. However, there is a lot that businesses can do to help. For example, if companies increased their employment rate of dementia carers by 2% up to 2030 (say by offering flexible working) the retention of these working carers would deliver a saving of £415 million.

We are now starting to see the impact of being more dementia-friendly. This includes a greater awareness of the condition, reduced stigma, and an increased ability for us to provide more person-centred advice to customers. There is also a greater sense of positivity in the work place and increased wellbeing for our working carers and anyone else affected by dementia.

I for one am proud to work for a business that cares about carers, wellbeing and about making communities more dementia-friendly.