The event at the Assembly Hall Theatre was attended by a number of local companies, who heard why a business would achieve dementia-friendly status and how to access the relevant training and resources.
The information was aimed at all organisations that regularly come into contact with people who live with dementia, in order to improve their staff’s understanding of the condition and learn how to help their customers.
CooperBurnett became the first business to be entered on to the DFC register in Tunbridge Wells. Associate Solicitor Katie Hancock made a presentation describing what the law firm had to do and what it means for them, their staff and clients.
Royal Tunbridge Wells Together is a BID [Business Improvement District] that was formed in April 2019, and its Town Centre Manager, Karen Pengelly, also addressed the meeting.
She described how she had spoken to local bus companies who told her that late-night drivers would check the buses when they return to the depot and often find an elderly person on board who was confused and didn’t know where they were going.
Karen Pengelly said: “Dementia is a subject that crosses the boundary of personal and business – we all know people with dementia and our town should be as safe and welcoming as it can be.
“Dementia crosses the divide, it can’t just be categorised as personal. Entire communities should be thinking of dementia and considering what can be done.”
She added: “The event was a great success with several businesses signing up on the spot to commence the process of becoming dementia friendly.
“I can’t thank CooperBurnett enough for their input and contribution to the event. The BID will be revisiting this subject in the future and assisting businesses as much as we can.”
Chris Parker, the Chair of Tonbridge’s hugely successful DFC, has brought her expertise to bear on Tunbridge Wells’ offering and is confident it can build on this promising start.
Tonbridge has seen two companies, Castle Cars and Inspirations Hair Salon, win countywide awards for their innovative approach to helping elderly customers.
Chris Parker said: “It was a huge success. I brought along the ageing suit which we challenge people to try so they can get an idea of what it’s like to live with dementia.
“And I had five businesses and also Royal Victoria Place all keen to become dementia friendly. So we’ve made a great start.”