After attending a Dementia Friends session recently, it was interesting to hear many ideas we could put into practice to make patients with dementia feel more welcome and comfortable when visiting the pharmacy.
The symptoms of dementia can vary, which makes each case unique. The illness may alter the way visual objects are perceived. For example, a dark-coloured door mat may appear to patients as a hole in the ground, which may seem daunting.
Making the pharmacy into a more dementia-friendly environment will not only benefit patients, but could help business flourish. Patients with regular prescriptions will also have a pleasant trip to their pharmacy. If your pharmacy becomes recognised for having a dementia-friendly service, patients may be more inclined to visit more often.
Although every case of dementia is different, there are some cheap yet significant steps from these workshops that pharmacy teams could take to show more support for the condition overall.
For instance, clear signposting indicating seating areas, ensuring signs – such as exits and fire exits – are easily identified, and avoiding patterned doormats or flooring will all allow patients with dementia to feel more confident about directions and where they are. In addition, good lighting will reassure them, help them identify where they are and aid in navigating their environment.
Arranging a workshop with Dementia Friends for the pharmacy team will ensure everyone receives some key information on the topic and understands the importance of implementing factors which can decrease the likelihood of patients with dementia feeling uneasy or even scared.
With dementia becoming increasingly common, it is imperative to have a safe and secure community pharmacy, where effective measures are put in place to make services, especially medical services, more accessible to all users.
Saffah Huseeba Danial is a pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln, and a national representative for the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association
Listen to C+D’s podcast with Emma Bould, programme partnership project manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, on what else pharmacy teams can do to support patients and carers to manage this neurological disorder:
To find out further information about dementia and how you can become a dementia friend, visit DementiaFriends.org.