1. Make your customer service more dementia-friendly
Good customer service can be key to helping somebody to live well with dementia. Here are a few tips to help your organisation deliver a more dementia-friendly service.
Offering understanding and reassurance
Someone with dementia may find it difficult to process information. They may feel disorientated and struggle to answer simple questions or take in what you are saying. In the later stages, they may be confused about what they are doing and make mistakes.
You can assist a person with dementia by:
- Allowing the person to take their time.
- Understanding how they might be feeling.
- Being friendly and smiley.
- Considering their feelings and responding to the emotions they are expressing.
- Asking direct questions. For example, ‘Is there someone you would like me to call?’ rather than ‘What would you like me to do?’
A person with dementia may not understand what you are doing or remember what you have said. Treat them respectfully by addressing them in conversation, as well as any partner or carer they may be with.
The below guidance is vital when communicating with someone who is experiencing difficulties associated with dementia.
Body language and physical contact
- Make eye contact.
- Make sure that your body language and facial expressions match what you are saying.
- Never stand too close or stand over someone to communicate.
- Do not cover your mouth. The person should be able to see your face clearly.
- Speak clearly and calmly.
- Use short, simple sentences.
- Speak at a slightly slower pace.
- Avoid speaking sharply or raising your voice.
- Don't talk about people with dementia as if they are not there or talk to them as you would to a young child.
- Listen carefully to what the person is saying, and give them plenty of encouragement.
- If you haven't understood fully, tell the person what you have understood and check with them to see if you are right.
- If possible, use visual clues – write your message down if the person is able to read and use objects or pictures to help the person understand. For example, show the person photographs of meals they can choose from.
For more information, please see page 20 of our Dementia-friendly business guide, which gives detailed advice on how you can help people affected by dementia.