Family-owned G.Wathall and Son have become the first funeral directors to qualify for membership of the Derbyshire Dementia Action Alliance.
The company is the city’s oldest independent firm of funeral directors and celebrates its 160th anniversary next year.
All its 30 staff at branches in Macklin Street, Alvaston, Borrowash and Ashbourne have become Dementia Friends as a result of attending awareness sessions to better consider the challenges facing people with dementia.
Adaptations have also been made to the branch offices to overcome any access issues and the company has agreed an action plan for on-going developments and training.
Wathall’s, which won the Derby Telegraph Contribution to the Community Business Award earlier this year, also brings a unique virtual dementia experience programme to the city once a year.
They invite care professionals and the public to a half day workshop to enable them to experience and better appreciate the sensory challenges facing people with dementia in their daily lives.
G Wathall and Sons Managing Director Helen Wathall explained: “We often come into contact with people living with dementia – visiting their homes to put a funeral plan in place and when arranging the funeral for their husband or wife who have probably been their carer.
“Having undergone training and been part of the virtual dementia tour for the past few years, we were keen to formalise our commitment to improving the service we provide for our local communities by applying to join the Derbyshire Dementia Action Alliance.
“By being part of an organisation with the joint vision of improving the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, I hope that we can continue to improve our services and encourage other businesses and organisations to follow suit.”
Derbyshire Dementia Action Alliance (DDAA) was established in 2013. It is part of a national body which captures and promotes best practice, brings together the private, public and voluntary sectors to learn more about the latest innovations in health and social care and campaigns on major issues affecting people living with dementia.
Helen Aldridge from Alzheimer’s Society explained that there were 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025.
“With an increasingly ageing population, it is vital that every organisation and business that work in our local communities consider how they communicate and support people affected by dementia and their carers.
“This can be as simple as reviewing the language used in written materials to making reception areas calm and therefore less intimidating.
“We have a broad spectrum of businesses and organisations across the county who share our passion to listen to the voice of people with dementia, connect, share best practice and take action to develop dementia friendly communities.
“Wathall’s have shown great commitment to improving and adapting the way they work in consideration of people living with dementia and their carers. They are the first funeral directors to join the DDAA and I hope that other businesses will follow their lead.”
For more information, visit: www.dementiaaction.org.uk.