The challenge we face
Dementia is one of the biggest health and social care challenges facing our society, with over 1 million people in the UK set to develop the condition by 2021. This growing demographic presents new challenges for utilities companies with increasing numbers of customers affected by dementia.
People with dementia have a right to continue living comfortably in their own homes as long as possible, but often they are denied this by poor service from providers. Jeremy Hughes, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society, says “We hear too often from people with dementia and their families who are struggling with their utilities providers – from the woman in her 90s 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.”
It’s estimated that today around 100,000 British Gas customers affected by dementia are living alone in their homes, which equates to 1 in 100 households supplied by British Gas.
Becoming Dementia Friends
To ensure these customers are being supported, utilities companies must adapt to their changing needs, and that’s why British Gas has been working for over two years towards becoming a dementia-friendly organisation.
Working with the Alzheimer’s Society, the company has rolled out the Dementia Friends programme to help support some of their most vulnerable customers. They now have over 20,000 Dementia Friends working throughout the UK.
Over two-thirds of the British Gas workforce have taken part in a Dementia Friends awareness session, including 10,000 engineers and thousands of staff working in contact centres around the UK.
The programme aims to transform the way people think about dementia, developing a wider understanding that it is possible to live well with dementia, and there are small ways you can help that make a big difference.
In addition to the staff awareness sessions, British Gas has worked with customers living with dementia, and their families, to help tailor services to be more dementia-friendly.
This includes a Power of Attorney scheme and Priority Services Register, which provides customers access to additional support services like free gas safety checks. Since June 2017, British Gas has recorded over 10,000 customer households with dementia who are now on the Priority Services Register.
As part of the commitment to becoming a dementia-friendly organisation, British Gas is also supporting its own employees living with dementia, or caring for someone affected by the condition. For example, our own growing Carers Network has over 1000 members, many of whom are affected by dementia.
Find out more
British Gas are encouraging families, friends and carers of customers living with dementia to contact their energy companies to find out what support is offered to vulnerable customers.
Find out more about some of the extra support offered by British Gas to customers living with dementia here.