The teams at branches of Specsavers in East Antrim are becoming qualified to better understand the needs of customers suffering from dementia.
Specsavers employees across Northern Ireland are completing Dementia Friends training, an initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society.
In doing so, they become recognised as ‘Dementia Friends’, with a badge to wear on their uniforms to indicate their increased level of dementia awareness to customers. Specsavers’ home- and care home-visiting teams – Specsavers Healthcall – are also completing the training.
Deirdre McAree, store director of Specsavers in Larne says: “Being more aware of dementia is an incredibly positive development for our team and our offering to customers.
“I always thought dementia was all to do with someone’s memory – but it is much more than that. By uncovering the truth about dementia, it really opened my eyes to how at Specsavers, when performing our daily duties, we can all take a little time to support and care.”
The comprehensive training covers all aspects of dementia and discusses how it affects people in different ways. It also describes how senses can be affected, including sight and hearing.
Dementia Awareness Week is taking place this week from May 15 until May 21.
Those with dementia commonly experience problems with their sight and visual perception, causing them to misinterpret the world around them. Some sufferers can experience hallucinations. On top of that, research has revealed that almost half of dementia patients in care homes are wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, leading to increased isolation and confusion.
Specsavers learning and development manager Samantha Jessop said: “By providing dementia awareness training, we are taking necessary steps to equip all colleagues with the necessary skills to support all of our customers and continue to provide the same excellent service that we pride ourselves upon, regardless of the personal struggles any of our customers may be facing. I’m delighted we are now offering this as part of our core training offer.”
Specsavers is also urging anyone over the age of 55 to undergo regular hearing tests as research suggests that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Hearing tests at Specsavers are free.