Search press releases

Advanced search options

British Gas supports launch of UK’s first dementia-friendly utilities guide

British Gas welcomed the launch of Britain’s first practical guide for utilities companies to help them better support customers affected by dementia. 
 
Leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society launched the Dementia Friendly Utilities Guide on 28 February at an event in Westminster, with speakers including The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, CEO of Ofgem Dermot Nolan and Alzheimer’s Society CEO Jeremy Hughes. 
 
The guide represents the views of hundreds of people living with dementia and their carers, alongside the best practice and experience of a working group of utilities organisations who are all taking active steps to become more dementia friendly.
 
British Gas was delighted to be asked by the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge Group to support the creation of the guide, and both co-wrote the document and chaired the Utilities working group.
 
Amie Harding, Senior Consumer Vulnerability Manager at British Gas who co-authored the guide, said: “We have made more than 20,000 of our employees Dementia Friends and have reviewed several processes and procedures to make the business dementia-friendly. Much of this work was recognised when British Gas won the Dementia Friendly Organisation of the year in 2017 at Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly awards. But the hard work doesn’t stop there. 
 
“I was lucky enough to co-author the guide and chair the working group that brought this guide together, as well as working with people living with dementia to ensure we were exploring the right challenges that people can face when dealing with a utility company. It’s clear there’s a long way to go, but it’s equally reassuring that many organisations are already making strides in the support they offer to customers. The guide offers some of these case studies as well as offering practical help for organisations to become dementia-friendly.”
 
Alzheimer’s Society CEO Jeremy Hughes, said: “Dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge facing society, with over 1 million set to develop the condition by 2021.
 
“Yet we hear too often from people with dementia and their families who are struggling with their Utilities providers - from the woman in her 90s, living alone, who had her phone line cut off just before Christmas to the man paying hundreds of pounds for TV services he didn’t even realise he had.
 
“Some businesses are already doing great work to address these issues, but too many vulnerable customers are being failed and urgent action is needed to change this – including ensuring their needs are being met, they are given clear, timely information and are charged a fair price. Utilities companies must unite now and commit to the principles of this guide to improve the lives of people with dementia.”
 
Designed to support existing guidance from the British Standards Institute Code of Practice for Dementia Friendly Communities, the guide provides information and examples of good practice in three areas:
 
People: Building awareness, delivering training and providing support to employees working with customers and those suffering from the condition themselves.
Processes: Auditing methods of customer support, tariff and product information and communication over the phone, in writing and online to those with dementia, as well as offering support to those in financial difficulty.
Place: Ensuring changes to routines such as local works or entering a customer’s property are well handled, and taking the importance of safeguarding into consideration. 
With more than 850,000 people living with the condition in Britain today, estimates suggest that at least 100,000 British Gas customers are living alone in their own homes with dementia, and a further 100,000 are living in the community with other people, many of whom have chronic health conditions including dementia. 
 
The guide includes several case studies showcasing British Gas’ actions to support these customers, including its Dementia Friends scheme, carers policy and review of the power of attorney process with the government’s Office of the Public Guardian. 
In 2015 British Gas accepted an invitation from the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge Group and became one of 10 leading companies committed to modelling what it means to be fully dementia friendly. 
 
As part of this, a bespoke Dementia Friends module for British Gas was launched, working with the Alzheimer’s Society in England and Wales and with Alzheimer’s Scotland. To date more than 20,000 British Gas people have become Dementia Friends. 
 
For more information and to download the guide, please visit www.alzheimers.org/uk/utilities.
 

For more information contact:

Katie Rose
Senior PR Manager
British Gas
01784 84 3000
07789 575915
katie.rose@britishgas.co.uk

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.


Share release