Dementia-friendly push in Port Macquarie gaining momentum

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The Port Macquarie community continues to make positive change in its move to become dementia-friendly with three new businesses signing up to the movement.

Silver Service Hire Cars, MBC Recruitment and Settlement City have all had their dementia-friendly Action Plans approved and are all now working towards being dementia-friendly.

For Settlement City Centre Manager Freddy Pittman, being a part of the Dementia-Friendly Community program made absolute sense to him and the organisation.

“We have been proudly supporting the Port Macquarie Hastings community since 1984 and being dementia-friendly is another way in which we can support all members of the community, by providing an inclusive and supportive environment to all shoppers,” Mr Pittman said.

“This inclusive and accessible workplace and customer environment are key elements of our businesses vision and overall commitment.”

Settlement City features 60 specialty retailers. Their action plan includes dementia training for all current and future employees, a review of the physical shopping centre environment with dementia-friendly design changes to occur in the short, medium and long term. In addition, community education on site during Dementia Awareness Month in 2016 is also planned.

Silver Service Hire Cars’ Action Plan was approved by the Dementia Community Support Alliance (formerly known as the Dementia Action Alliance) in July. Silver Service Hire Cars is a family business, owned and operated by Christie and Peter Cristoforo. The premium alternate transport provider operates up to 8 vehicles on the Mid North Coast.

The action plan includes dementia training for all current and future employees, a review of vehicle interiors, improvements to external marketing material and the creation of a human resources policy to support any staff that have a diagnosis of dementia or become a carer for someone living with dementia.

Mrs Cristoforo said that after hearing Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, Dementia-Friendly Community Project Officer, Kara Nicholson speak at a Hastings Business Enterprise Network breakfast they knew they wanted to support those in the community who were living with dementia.

“We already have a substantial customer base from the elderly community, and we thought there was more we could be doing to better support the needs of people living with dementia in the community. We were surprised by the lack of business knowledge around dementia and the impact that would have in being able to cater for their needs,” said Mrs Cristoforo.

“We see our role as a business is to be an enabler, so this initiative was something we couldn’t not do.”

Both MBC Recruitment and Settlement City had their action plans approved in September by the Dementia Community Support Alliance.

MBC Recruitment is a recruitment and labour hire organisation, including the recruitment of nurses and supply of nursing staff in community, residential aged care and disability care services.

MBC Recruitment’s action plan will be working towards providing dementia training for all current and future employees, in addition to candidates and MBC Nursing Agency staff being educated on dementia. Improvements to signage in the office and supporting facilities, and a review of external marketing material to ensure it is of a dementia-friendly design were also included in their action plan.

MBC Recruitment Consultant Sunette Opperman said with the Port Macquarie State Electoral Division having the third highest rate of dementia in NSW and approximately 1,730 people living with condition, it was important for their business to step forward and make dementia-friendly changes to their business so all future interactions they or their clients have with people living with dementia was a comfortable and understanding process.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Regional Manager North Gary Thomas said it is a very exciting time with the level of community and business interest in the dementia-friendly initiative.

“No matter how large or small, there are steps we can all take to increase our awareness of dementia and as a community drive change and work together towards a more inclusive and dementia-friendly Port Macquarie Hastings community,” said Mr Thomas.

These three new businesses join Coast Front Realty and St Agnes’ Parish, who both had Dementia-Friendly business Action Plans approved earlier this year.

For more information on how your business or community organisation can work towards becoming more dementia-friendly please contact Port Macquarie Dementia-Friendly Communities Project Officer Kara Nicholson on (02) 6584 7444.