Dealing with dementia in the workplace
Ensuring the wellbeing of your employees is important for caring employers. But the wellbeing of your employees also has an impact on your business. As it is Dementia Awareness Week (14th- 20th May), we wanted to highlight this particular aspect of mental wellbeing and how it impacts your workforce.
What is dementia?
Dementia is the decline of cognitive functions, and the most common impairments are:
- short-term memory loss
- inability to take in new information
- attention loss
Given that these symptoms could be experienced by any person for a number of reasons, it can be difficult to identify people that need support.
Who does dementia affect?
Although dementia is often seen as something that affects older people, there are 40,000 people in the UK under 65 living with dementia. These people are classed as having “young onset” or “working-age” dementia, and the number of diagnoses are increasing. According to Alzheimer’s Society there are around 850,000 people in total living with dementia and this is set to rise to 1 million by 2025.
So with the total number of diagnoses increasing and the number of people remaining in the workplace for longer, employers could see a rise in the number of their employees that are affected.
What can you do?
You do have a duty of care and in fact, a legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments in your workplace for staff with dementia. Alzheimer’s Society has produced a guide for employers to help provide support for your staff.
It’s important to be aware of the signs of dementia and any mental health issue, and to make your staff aware as well. If you foster an open environment where staff feel comfortable to talk about mental health issues, you can tackle the stigma and improve awareness. You could even provide training for your managers on carer and dementia-awareness.
You could also consider reviewing your benefits package to make sure that the benefits you offer provide enough support for your staff. Benefits like Employee Assistance Programmes can help to support staff who are affected.
1. Tessa Gutteridge: Enabling young people with dementia to continue working
2. Alzheimer’s Society