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Charity launches dementia-friendly finance guide

Charity launches dementia-friendly finance guide

The Alzheimer's Society has published a dementia-friendly finance and insurance guide to help businesses support people with dementia to manage their finances and stay in work.

The charity estimates some 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, a figure which is set to rise to over a million by 2021.

Symptoms of dementia can include memory loss and difficulty with language and problem-solving – which can make it harder to remember PIN numbers, navigate bills or pay for goods online, for example.

The guide, which has been funded by a donation from MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis, aims to help financial organisations better understand the needs of people with dementia, and provide them with better customer service.

See our Power of Attorney guide for more info on planning in case you or a loved one develops dementia.

What challenges do people with dementia face?

A survey by the Alzheimer's Society back in 2013 found that 76% of those with dementia had difficulty using banks, and 66% needed more assistance when banking.

And in recent focus groups, the charity has identified key challenges such as keeping track of spending and transactions, especially when using card payments and overdrafts. It also says those with dementia can find the increasing use of online banking and self-service machines confusing.

Martin: 'Finance must be more dementia-friendly'

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Life does not end with a diagnosis of dementia, and by allowing those diagnosed to manage their finances without worry, or by helping those helping them, it leaves them supported to live well for as long as possible.

"I'd urge our financial services industry to continue to get even more dementia-friendly too – this is in everyone's interest. What is needed is reasonable adjustments to products and services, language and communications to dismantle the money-management barriers for those with dementia. Plus we need to ensure that those helping someone else by operating through a Power of Attorney find it easy to open new accounts, and operate them without any discrimination or difficulty.

"Alzheimer's Society's Dementia-Friendly Finance and Insurance Guide outlines simple steps that will ensure the industry understands more about dementia and can support the growing number of people affected. We know there is increasing will there from the industry – the hope is this guide will show them the way."

What does the guide say?

You can download the Dementia-Friendly Finance and Insurance Guide for free from the Alzheimer's Society website. It identifies three main areas where organisations could work to support those with dementia:

  • Improving awareness, training and support. All customer-facing staff should be given extra training on dementia, and at least 60% of all employees should be Dementia Friends, who learn more about dementia through information sessions or an online video, and aim to turn their extra understanding into action.
    Organisations should also give extra support to staff who are directly affected by dementia – including updating policies to help those with dementia stay in the workplace, and considering leave policies and flexible working for those caring for a loved one with dementia.
  • Improving processes to support customers and provide better information and signposting. Flexible and affordable products should be introduced to meet the needs of customers with different types and stages of dementia, and information should be communicated in clear language and formats.
    Staff should be well-informed about processes such as Power of Attorney. They should be aware of safeguarding procedures and signs of financial abuse, but try to ensure they don't make products inaccessible to carers.
  • Making the physical environment accessible to people with dementia. Organisations should review their premises or offices to see how they could be made more accessible to people with dementia.
    This could include making sure there are clear signs to exits, service points and toilets, as well as consistent lighting and seating areas.

What does Alzheimer's Society say?

Alzheimer's Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: "Dementia can devastate lives and it is vital that people with dementia are enabled and empowered to live the life they want in their community. Interacting with their bank, financial service provider or insurer can be a challenging process for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

"Not only is it important that they are properly supported, it also makes good business sense to be dementia-friendly. With support and adjustments from financial service providers, people affected can continue to independently manage their finances and access insurance that meets their needs.

"We need the whole sector to unite against dementia by committing to the actions outlined in Alzheimer's Society's dementia-friendly financial services guide and make their employees Dementia Friends, so no one has to face dementia alone."