My View, Dr David Crichton: Caring shop helped dementia patient

Chris Shepherd, the Bentley Tesco Express store manager, with one of the signs
Chris Shepherd, the Bentley Tesco Express store manager, with one of the signs
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‘Doncaster is working to become Dementia Friendly.’

You may have seen this sign in shops and buildings in the borough and wondered what it means.

In simple terms, it’s a commitment from organisations to try and make times easier for those who have dementia, from shopkeepers giving a helping hand to someone struggling to count out coins needed to pay for goods, to bus drivers ensuring a passenger gets off at their correct stop, and much more.

It’s a statement of intent, but I’m delighted to see it is being put into practice as more Doncaster people are being trained to become Dementia Friends and develop a better understanding of the disease and how it affects people. I’ve been made aware of an excellent example of this helpful attitude in action at a supermarket directly opposite my surgery in Bentley.

A member of staff at Tesco Express, High Street, noticed an elderly customer was making up to three visits a day to the store to buy the same products and spending up to £30 each time.

The store assistant became concerned when she noticed this happened consistently over a two week period. She reminded the customer she had already been in earlier that day to buy the same items she had in her basket – but she couldn’t remember. The store rang the Alzheimer’s Society who contacted the lady’s relatives and made them aware. It’s a great story of the local community looking out for its own. It’s reassuring to know front line retail staff have such a good awareness of the potential signs and symptoms of dementia.

The supermarket manager, Chris Shepherd, pictured, takes pride in saying he runs a local community store. He says his staff know their regular customers and build up agood relationship with them. Last year, Tesco were the first supermarket nationally to introduce dementia friendly checkouts to support people who have the disease. It highlights how business is responding.

Research indicates Alzheimer’s and dementia are among the most feared diseases associated with getting older, greater than the fear of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But we know it is possible for people to live well with dementia if diagnosed early and given support. Latest figures for Doncaster show 2,605 people have been diagnosed with the disease but we reckon for a town our size that some 910 have dementia but have not yet been diagnosed. Doncaster’s current diagnosis rate is 74.1 per cent.

This year’s Dementia Awareness Week takes place on May 15 -21 and Doncaster is getting ready to stage awareness-raising activities, which you can find out more about at www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk/news. Log onto www.dementiafriends.org.uk for details.