: Boots Ireland has undertaken a significant step in supporting people living with dementia in communities across Ireland by providing training to all staff that will promote a dementia-inclusive environment across its 89 retail and pharmacy outlets. With World Alzheimer’s Day taking place on the 21st September, it is a timely reminder about the need for society to nurture greater understanding and awareness of the challenges and experiences of those living with dementia.
In Ireland, there are more than 64,000 people living with dementia and more than half a million people have a family member who have been affected by the condition. Research undertaken by the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland has found that during the COVID-19 crisis many people living with dementia expressed concern about their ability to carry out tasks such as shopping and some suggested that practical support with shopping and prescriptions would help alleviate this concern. [i]
With that in mind, Boots Ireland set out to develop a training module that would allow its staff to identify people with dementia when they visit a store or pharmacy and the ways in which a staff member can facilitate a dementia-inclusive experience for the customer.
The training, which was developed with the Dementia: Understand Together campaign, has been rolled out to over 2,000 staff members in all 89 boots stores across Ireland. Led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Ireland, the Dementia: Understand Together campaign is one of six key priorities of the Irish National Dementia Strategy.
The training modules were specifically modified for Boots staff and included testimonials from people living with dementia. Staff were given insight into the ways in which they can recognise behaviours that could indicate that a person may have dementia and identify common challenges a person with dementia may encounter in a store environment and the range of options they can consider for supporting them. Staff were trained on the ways they can modify the support given to customers to help overcome simple barriers they may experience.
Speaking about the awareness training, Joe Scallan, Head of Stores at Boots Ireland said: “Caring for communities is at the heart of our culture in Boots and the dementia awareness training that we have recently rolled out across all our stores is part of our continued commitment to caring for our customers in communities throughout Ireland. When someone living with dementia visits a Boots store, they will be met by friendly, trained staff who understand the condition and can provide an experience that is inclusive and caters for their needs. We are delighted to have reached a point where we can announce the initiative and look forward to supporting those living with dementia in our stores”.
“Dementia: Understand Together aims to change the culture around dementia in Ireland. Many national partner organisations have taken up the call for action to make their services and spaces inclusive of people with dementia. It is fantastic to see the ongoing commitment from Boots to ensure that all staff members have a good understanding of dementia, and that people with dementia and their families have a positive retail experience and feel they are supported and heard”, Fiona Foley, National Coordinator Dementia: Understand Together in Communities.
Frank Golden, member of the Irish Dementia Working Group commented: “People like me, who are living with dementia, need to use pharmacies a lot, so it’s really important that we understand each other. Boots are to be congratulated for arranging for their staff to undertake training to make sure that they offer a dementia inclusive and positive experience for us.”