Our Supporters - Become A Member
A key component in any county's claim to be "Dementia Friendly" will include the service and behavior of its businesses toward customers with dementia and their caregivers. Citrus County has a program for Dementia Friendly Business in place with more than 20 businesses trained to date.
Given the fact that the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce has nearly 900 members, and that this likely represents a minority of businesses in the county, there is great opportunity to expand this program.
How Businesses Become Dementia Friendly:
The idea of encouraging businesses to recognize, cater to, and provide a special level of customer service to individuals and families living with dementia appears to have originated in Europe and the UK several years ago.
To our knowledge, the first adoption of this idea in the United States was in Wisconsin three to four years ago. This program requires the manager of a business to undergo a half-hour of training to earn the right to display a "Dementia Friendly" sticker. A fee of $10 is charged for the training.
One version of Dementia Friendly Business in the United States is the "Purple Angel." program. It was adopted from Great Britain. Under this plan, businesses are asked to verify that a majority of their employees have read a "poster" with information about dementia in order to earn the right to display a Purple Angel on their door. No training is provided and nothing is done to verify the business owner's claim that employees have participated. No fee is charged.
The American home health care company Home Instead offers a kind of dementia friendly training on line. An individual reads information on the Home Instead web site and takes a test by answering questions on line. Individuals who pass the test receive a certificate. No fee is charged.
The Dementia Friendly Business certification available in Citrus and surrounding counties is provided by Coping with Dementia LLC. It includes an hour and a half of hands-on training for individuals who are likely to sell or provide services to individuals with dementia and their caregivers. In order to receive certification, the Business must agree to train all, or at least a majority of their employees who regularly deal with the public. A fee of $25 per student is charged, but scholarships for free training are available through a fund set up for that purpose.
Community Benefits of a Dementia Friendly Business Program:
It is clear from the experience in Citrus County that a business can benefit in reputation, marketing, and sales through Dementia Friendly certification. The benefit can differ widely depending on the type of business and how aggressively it approaches promotion of its certification, but to date no adverse effect of being certified Dementia Friendly has been reported.
So, it is good for appropriate businesses (which we shall discuss below), but from DFA's point of view the value of such a program is how it contributes to the community as a whole. Part of the right to declare a community Dementia Friendly should include the fact that a significant and conspicuous number of its businesses have received training and been certified Dementia Friendly. What might be considered a "significant" number is open to discussion, but it should be enough that it is conspicuous and talked about within the community. This may have more to do with aggressive marketing by business owners and DFA than it does with gross numbers.
This would suggest that "dementia friendly community" should not be defined by a quota of business that have participated, because it is unrealistic to believe that even a majority of the businesses will participate. Take note again of the fact that our county has possibly two or three-thousand eligible businesses.
What is an Eligible Business; Are Any Ineligible? :
Any business that has direct contact with the public within a mature demographic can benefit from Dementia Friendly training. In other words, there are categories of business, such as children's day care, that would be very unlikely to make use of or benefit from the training. These may be eligible, but not as a practical matter.
Generally, any business that serves or sells to an adult demographic can benefit from Dementia Friendly training. However, the same may not be true in regard to Dementia Friendly "certification." For example, any businesses that sell vehicles or potentially hazardous products should probably not place a Dementia Friendly sticker on its door, which could be misunderstood to mean that it is encouraging people with dementia to buy its products.
From a service and legal standpoint, the owner of a motorcycle shop, automobile dealership, or firearms business can benefit from the training if it will help him avoid liability or a tragic mistake by unwittingly selling to someone with dementia, but he would still not want to advertise that the business is Dementia Friendly.
Not all restaurants are appropriate for Dementia Friendly training. If they are loud and provide overstimulation with music and television screens, they will not naturally attract the kind of clientele that will benefit from the training. Likewise, it is difficult to envision any bar that should advertise Dementia Friendly service.
Dementia Friendly Churches:
Experience has shown that churches can benefit from the same or similar Dementia Friendly training designed for businesses. Religious institutions are a rich opportunity for Dementia Friendly training because most of them already have a "service culture" and well-organized outreach programs. Already catering to an older demographic, their members and leaders can easily understand the importance of a Dementia Friendly component in their ministry.
Guidelines for Dementia Friendly-appropriate Businesses:
Generally, Dementia Friendly training should be appropriate for the following:
- All churches.
- Civic organizations that have a mission related to elder care.
- Businesses that cater to a mature demographic. In this case, "mature" includes individuals 40 and up who may be caring for a parent or older sibling.
- Businesses that provide a quiet or low-stimulation environment.
- Businesses that trade "safe" products or services.