Businesses are being urged to become more “dementia friendly”, including working to educate employees and managers about dementia and offering more support for people with dementia or those caring for people suffering with the condition.
The call by charity the Alzheimer’s Society has accompanied the launch of a guide, Creating a Dementia-Friendly Workplace: a practical guide for employers.
The society has argued that one in five people living with dementia are under retirement age, and therefore could be making a valuable contribution to businesses.
With the UK workforce ageing, and the number of people with dementia expected to increase to one million by 2021, this is an issue that is likely to become more pressing for employers, it has said.
The Alzheimer’s Society has suggested that employers could:
- establish a setting in which every employee understands dementia and feels able to talk about it;
- support employees in the early stages, especially by opening channels of communication;
- provide ongoing support and management, including making reasonable adjustments to job roles or physical features of buildings, fittings or equipment;
- put in place plans to support people in the transition from work when it becomes clear they can no longer fulfil their role; and
- make working more flexible for carers, again including keeping open channels of communication.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the society, said: “For too long dementia has been seen as only affecting older people who are retired, but with over 40,000 people living with the condition under the age of retirement, this is simply not the case.
“Likewise, many carers of people with dementia would like to be able to continue earning.
“Employers that invest in awareness raising and rethink their approach to dementia will retain skills and experience in the workplace and also ensure people with dementia and carers are more financially secure,” he added.