A campaign to turn Wrexham into a dementia friendly town has been stepped up.
Businesses at the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre have agreed for members of staff to receive training to spot the signs of dementia so they can respond appropriately if somebody has the condition.
Among them is the Starbucks cafe where baristas Maddy Hembury-Hayward, 20, and Billy Paterson, 23, have become the first to attend awareness sessions.
They say the workshops organised in conjunction with the Dementia Friendly Wrexham Association gave them a real insight into the issues faced by people with dementia and their families.
Maddy said: “It’s simple things like big black doormats at the entrance doors of some stores and cafes. I never realised that some people with dementia won’t cross them as they see it as a big black hole.
“And doormats with swirls and shapes they can see as snakes or some form of insects and that can have a similar effect meaning a dementia sufferer won’t cross them.”
Billy added: “I never realised people with dementia tend to regress to their childhood.
“It seems older memories and experiences remain longer. That means they are lost in the modern world and gadgets and electronic equipment we are all so familiar with means little to a sufferer.
“A fire fighter joined the session and explained how they are called to fires caused by dementia sufferers putting plastic kettles on hobs. Of course that’s what people used to do to heat a kettle, they’d put it on a stove.”
“The plan now is to make sure everyone working at Starbucks, Eagles Meadow attends a dementia awareness workshop.”
According to Maddy, they will be taking part in a national event organised by the Alzheimer’s Society on June 15 to raise awareness of dementia.
She said: “We will be having face painting, a raffle and other fun events going on with a table set up outside. We hope to raise a really good amount of money in support of the Alzheimer’s Society.”
Eagles Meadow manage Kevin Critchley is passionate about supporting the campaign.
He said: “It’s such an important issue. My hope is to get as many shop workers, not just from Eagles Meadow, as possible to attend. We have a growing list of retailers wishing to attend.
“The one hour sessions are very informal and we have now also had requests from members of the public who, having heard about the sessions, also want to come along.
“My aim is to get every unit in Eagles Meadow to be recognised as Dementia Friendly and to have at least a couple of people in each unit attending a session so they can pass-on details and advice to others.
“Understanding dementia is key to enabling us all to help all members of our community. Shopping and leisure should be a pleasure, so anything we can do to help make it more pleasurable for people is both good for our community and good for our business because our business can’t thrive without our people.
“Everyone who has attended a session has gone away having learned something useful and informative, often something that relates directly to their own personal or family experiences.”
To find out more about the dementia awareness sessions being run at Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and anyone wishing to find out more about Working to become a Dementia Friendly Community or Organisation please contact Jo Lane, Dementia Friendly Communities Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Society on 01352 700486 or email@example.com