We have many targets for 2019 and amongst them is an aim to become a dementia-friendly firm of solicitors.

Our Ilkley branch is spearheading an inclusive drive to be more accommodating and responsive to dementia-suffering customers and we are proud to be supporting the Dementia Action Week 2019.

Victoria Holland and Jess Bourke are members of our Ilkley branch team and they recently attended a session with the Ilkley & District Dementia Friendly Group to learn how Ison Harrison could work to make our Ilkley branch dementia friendly.

The session gave us a deeper understanding of dementia and the small changes that we could adopt within our office and within our procedures to help support the community better, particularly those living with dementia.

Ison Harrison is working to support dementia sufferers

This work ties in with us supporting Dementia Action Week, which takes place between 20th and 26th May 2019. This is an initiative being driven by the Alzheimer’s Society and aims to unite people, workplaces, schools and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Dementia is a very common condition and is a persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury. It manifests itself in memory disorder, personality changes and impaired reasoning. In the legal profession we come across situations where people are required to listen to information and make important judgements based on this, so we have to make allowances and have procedures in place to ensure that people with dementia are not prejudiced or treated differently in the pursuit of justice or the decision-making process.

Unfortunately, many people living with dementia feel isolated and cut off from their community, losing friendships and family ties along the way. Making our branches dementia-friendly is a way to be supportive and inclusive and ensure that critical decisions can be made and the legal system can treat people fairly and consistently.

How we can help dementia sufferers in our offices

As a firm, we are now in discussions to adopt some practices in our offices that are proven to help dementia sufferers, and to ensure they can have a comfortable experience at our branches and come away with their legal requirements in safe hands.

The session that our Ilkley branch attended discussed ways to help us communicate more effectively with clients who have dementia and their relatives. They also discussed minor cosmetic changes which could be made to our branch offices to make community members living with dementia more comfortable, and hence receptive to information and the ability to make decisions.

These included:

  • The use of colour – research has suggested that if rooms such as bathrooms or toilets are all white it can be difficult for dementia-sufferers to pick out 3D objects. The use of coloured handrails, toilet seats and signs are suggested as being helpful.
  • It was suggested that we should avoid shiny floors and heavily patterned carpets, as this could make people living with dementia nervous and change their walk.
  • It was also suggested to avoid black carpets as people with dementia could think this is a hole and seek to avoid it.
  • Finally, it was suggested that we could offer different opening hours to allow people with dementia to visit at calmer times, and that maybe the lights could be dimmed during this time.

As we look to implement some of these small changes at branches where possible, we aim to make Ison Harrison a dementia-friendly firm of solicitors. This will enable us to be more welcoming and inclusive for dementia-sufferers and to ensure they are not discriminated against in their pursuit of justice and the fulfilment of their legal rights.

If you require any more information, please contact us on 0113 284 5000 or alternatively email Dominic.Mackenzie@isonharrison.co.uk.