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Specsavers Ballymena embarks on dementia awareness programme

Updated: Sep 14


SPECSAVERS Ballymena has taken part in completing new awareness raising sessions that allow them to better understand the needs of customers living with dementia.


The popular high street opticians and audiologists in Ballymena has carried out training as part of an updated Dementia Friends programme, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative changing the way people think, act and talk about dementia.


By completing the session, staff are now recognised Dementia Friends, and have a badge to wear on their uniforms to indicate their increased level of dementia awareness to customers. All customer-facing Specsavers colleagues including the Home Visits teams, who provide a comprehensive eyecare service to those who cannot get to a store unaccompanied, have taken part in the programme.


Gerard O’Mullan, Specsavers Ballymena Optometry Director, says:


“Being more aware of dementia is an incredibly positive development for our colleagues and our offering to customers in Ballymena.


“By becoming Dementia Friends, our team feels more confident to ensure any customers living with dementia feel safe and are looked after in a sensitive way. We’re always keen to go the extra mile and support our local community and this development should do exactly that.”


Morven Lean, Senior Strategic Change Manager at Alzheimer’s Society says:


“It’s fantastic to see Specsavers Ballymena take this first step to becoming a dementia-friendly business by inviting its staff to join over 3.4 million Dementia Friends in the UK today. As we have come out of lockdown, more people are heading to the shops, and it’s vital that businesses are dementia-friendly and provide a well-informed service and support for customers with dementia.


“There are currently 850,000 people in the UK with dementia and this number is set to rise to one million by 2025, so it’s never been more important for businesses, organisations and individuals to tackle the stigma around dementia, and transform the way the nation acts, thinks and talks about the condition.”


Specsavers first signed up to Dementia Friends in 2019 and so far, around 6,000 staff have become Dementia Friends. The updated programme, created by Alzheimer’s Society, features more interactive modules, updated information and video content, and staff will be joining over 3.4 million people in the UK who have become a Dementia Friends.


It covers all aspects of dementia and discusses how it affects people in different ways. With particular relevance to Specsavers, it also describes how senses can be affected, including sight and hearing.


People with dementia may experience problems with their sight and visual perception, which can lead to confusion and misinterpretations about the world around them. Some people living with dementia can experience hallucinations. On top of that, many people living with dementia may be wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, which can lead to increased isolation and confusion.


Specsavers also encourages regular hearing tests as research suggests that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia. Hearing tests at Specsavers are free.