SUPERMARKET staff have joined mental health workers in their mission to make the city dementia-friendly.
Tesco at North Harbour pledged its support to the Dementia Action Alliance yesterday, in a cake-cutting ceremony led by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Ken Ellcome.
The fixture marked the store’s participation in an initiative to make Portsmouth a fully compatible city for people with dementia by 2019.
The effort, which was kick-started two years ago, is being spearheaded by regional mental health services, including Remind and Solent Mind.
Sue Blake, the service manager at Tesco North Harbour, said she is ‘delighted’ her team could get on board with the cause.
She said: ‘It was absolutely overwhelming to launch our support for the Dementia Action Alliance.
‘Lending a helping hand to customers with dementia is something I feel is overlooked by many retailers.
‘I’m delighted to get the ball rolling as we try to create the best experience for all our shoppers and for people with dementia right across the city.’
As part of its link with the Dementia Action Alliance, Tesco North Harbour has begun training its staff to recognise the condition among its customer base.
Now, when customers with dementia enter the store, they can receive a catalogue of support as they go about their shop – including picking out items, avoiding confusion and getting lost and paying for their goods.
Sarita Chavda, service manager at Remind, was at yesterday’s launch to welcome the store to the network – which has already benefitted more than 300 people with dementia in the city.
She said: ‘Our ultimate goal is for Portsmouth to be completely dementia-friendly by the end of this year.
‘In joining the Dementia Action Alliance, we are glad to say Tesco North Harbour is prepared to play a part in that effort.
‘Unlike most, supermarket customers with dementia can often feel disoriented or confused as they go about their shop – with some unknowingly walking out before they have paid for their items.
‘Of course this is not deliberate, but by getting Tesco staff to be able to recognise these things in their customers, they can help shoppers enjoy a much more inclusive experience, without fear or worry.’
If you run a business in Portsmouth and want to become dementia-friendly, call Remind on 03303 324 030.