Working on the Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group

A long-time campaigner is helping to represent people with dementia on the Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group. Rachael Doeg talks to him about his experiences and ideas.

Campaigning for greater support for people with dementia is something Trevor Jarvis has been doing for almost 10 years. Since his diagnosis of vascular dementia, he has had to contend with losing old friends, being avoided by neighbours and consistently challenging people and organisations in order to maintain control over his life.

Trevor and Ann Jarvis

Trevor is now helping to represent the needs of people with dementia on the Dementia Friendly Communities Champion Group, which was set up following the Prime Minister's challenge on dementia.

Knowing more

Trevor is pleased to put his ideas forward through the champion group about what industry and community leaders can do to support people with dementia.

He has been providing examples of day to day difficulties and how these could be overcome. One idea for supermarkets was to have a separate till for people who need extra assistance. Other obstacles include being unable to get travel insurance and difficulties using pay station machines in car parks.

Seeing results is what matters most to Trevor. He says,

'This is the first time that a Prime Minister has ever put their hand up and said, "I'm coming on board and I'm going to get things done." Hopefully with David Cameron involved and a lot of high profile companies, people will actually do what they say they're going to do.'

Trevor says that a better understanding of dementia is the first major priority in creating dementia friendly communities, and this means ensuring that staff in banks, post offices and shops know more about the condition.

He says,

'Dementia isn't a visible disability. I walk into a bank or shop and people can't see there's anything wrong with me. I don't want to wear a sign around me saying "I've got dementia" as I'd be taken advantage of, so you've got to be very careful about how you deal with the situation.'

Better banking

On one occasion Trevor had a problem withdrawing a small amount of cash at his local bank and more ID was required. His wife Ann had to step in and Trevor felt embarrassed by the attention and need for help.

He says,

'I have problems with chip and pin so I use a signature card, but my signature doesn't always correspond to that on the card. One of my suggestions is for banks to have photo ID on bank cards in the same way driving licences do.

'Secondly, the chip on the card could store information that indicates to the cashier that I have dementia and need extra support. That way, there's less chance of feeling embarrassed in front of people and you might be asked to a side room instead. A card like that would give me security and reassurance, and thousands of people like me.'

Graeme Whippy is Senior Manager on the Group Disability Programme at Lloyds Banking Group and he is another champion group member.

He says,

'With Trevor's first idea we need to make sure we've considered factors such as security and any constraints imposed on banks by standards bodies.

'His second idea is very much aligned to the work we're already doing with Disability Rights UK. It isn't just about understanding disabled customers' needs, it's about finding a way to capture those needs and store them in our customer records so that the information is flagged up for our colleagues. Our overall goal is to be able to recognise that a customer has an impairment and then treat them accordingly wherever and whenever they contact us.'

Graeme is discussing with the Society how best to roll out dementia training to frontline Lloyds staff. He's also working with Aviva, Nationwide and others on a dementia charter setting out how financial services can become more dementia friendly.

Get talking

For Trevor, one of the biggest challenges is getting the public talking about dementia. He says,

'What we need is something as big and powerful in its message as the Tell Sid campaign for British Gas was, but you've got to have people on board to do it with you.

'We've got people with power and connections behind them now, and it does feel that we've got the right people on board at the right time. I'm pleased to be involved in this group, I just hope we'll see results at the end of it.'

Find out more about dementia friendly communities. 

Let the Society know your ideas about dementia friendly communities. To do this, email [email protected].

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