Claire Singleton

Chief Executive Officer, Mature Savings

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Walking in the shoes of people with dementia

Jackie Noakes, Managing Director of our Mature Savings business and her senior management team were first in taking the plunge to test the capability of their front line servicing teams to deal with customers and their families affected by dementia.

Have you ever stopped to think why people with dementia wander? Why do they grab at things in the air? Why do they call out? These are questions that healthcare and social housing professionals have been grappling with for a long time.

Jackie Noakes, Managing Director of our Mature Savings business and her senior management team were first in taking the plunge to test the capability of their front line servicing teams to deal with customers and their families affected by dementia.

But how do you help a financial services operation that relies increasingly on phone and online contact with customers to gain a deeper understanding of people who face this increasingly prevalent disease?

Legal & General commissioned social entrepreneur, Rachel Mortimer of Engage & Create to give our management team a sense of what it’s like to live with dementia.  We were able to see at first-hand how certain challenges could lead to some of the classic dementia behaviours.

According to Alzheimers Research UK there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This is approximately 1.3% of the population. By 2025 the number is expected to rise to over one million (1.5% of the population) and by 2050 it’s projected to exceed 2 million or 2.7% of the population. More alarmingly with an ageing population 1 in 6 people over 80 currently have dementia.

There are approximately 700,000 informal carers caring for their loved ones living with dementia. This is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2050 as our population continues to live longer.

We estimate that our own Mature Savings business could have over 50,000 customers diagnosed with dementia. This could double to 100,000 by 2050, with important consequences for the people with dementia and their carers, who will need to navigate their way through the complexities of managing their finances.

Jackie Noakes, Managing Director of our Mature Savings business and her senior management team were first in taking the plunge to test the capability of their front line servicing teams to deal with customers and their families affected by dementia.

A number of real life customer challenges were set for the management team in a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise created by Engage & Create. This tried-and-tested Pop Up Dementiaexperience illustrated what life might be like living with dementia.

They gave the team a number of relatively simple tasks to carry out. These involved interacting as a customer with our savings business. These tasks included:

  • Contacting our own call centre for a valuation of their investments
  • Interacting with our website to enquire about the investments
  • Acting as a carer trying to help a person with dementia understand how their savings policy works

Rachel Mortimer comments: “The Pop Up Dementia Experience is available to creative companies looking to offer their teams a thought-provoking and mind-expanding experience. Looking at the world through someone else's eyes and walking in their shoes leads to a different kind of thinking. Setting it up within the company only takes around 10 minutes per person and yet can create a long lasting impression.”

So How Did We Do?

Jackie Noakes, Managing Director of Mature Savings said on behalf of her management team: "I found this session quite profound. I hadn’t understood the scale of dementia and what that means for our customers, the limitations that imposes and how much more we should consider doing to become easier to do business with, for people affected by dementia, their carers and their families.”

The team are now in the process of looking at what they could do as a business to improve the experience for people living with Dementia.  Ideas are already flowing:

Shannon Wood, Commercial Director, Mature Savings said “Often with dementia come visual and physical conditions. We could do a better job at asking customers if there is more we can do for them and give them the time that they need to talk to us"

Nick Frankland, Chief Operations Officer, Mature Savings said “I learnt that dementia was a whole lot more than forgetting things. I learnt how debilitating it was for our customers and the fact that all senses are typically affected. We’ll need to think about how we can create space for our customers and better check their understanding”

What Next?

Following our work with Rachel from Engage and Create, Gary Fitzgerald, CEO of Action on Elder Abuse and a team from STEP Change are coming in to our business to help us to understand the best way of dealing with power of attorneys and customers in debt.

About Engage & Create

Engage & Create is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving quality of life for people with dementia and those that care for them.

We believe everyone has the right to be inspiring conversation where they are heard and understood. Involvement in our structured art appreciation discussions, Ignite Sessions, offers a safe space for people to express their views and beliefs enabling participation in a meaningful, intellectual activity and opportunity for personal growth.

Ignite Sessions are a forum for exploration and exchange of ideas without relying on short-term memory. It encourages an opportunity to share personal experiences and access long-term memories that otherwise may not be stimulated. Participants benefit from a new insight into others’ ideas and interests, and also a means to make connections between individual experience and the world at large.

Delivered through the Montessori approach focusing on individual's strengths and abilities, this positive approach to dementia care is a source of creativity and comfort to people with dementia and caregivers alike. As well as a great learning experience, these sessions are a fun, friendly and creative way to have social interaction and connect to peers and can be delivered at every stage of dementia.

Engage & Create received funding from Legal & General’s award winning Social Enterprise Fund www.se-assist.co.uk

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