British Gas is working with the Alzheimer’s Society to encourage families, friends and carers of customers living with dementia across Wales to contact their energy company if they are concerned about the energy account of their loved ones this winter.
British Gas, which serves 10 million homes, estimates that around 100,000 customers are living alone in their homes with dementia. This equates to one in every 100 households the company serves. However, British Gas believes many more customers are also supporting loved ones living with the condition.
Working with the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, the company is rolling out a specialist ‘Dementia Friends’ programme to help support customers living with the condition this winter.
As a result, more than 20,000 staff – two-thirds of the company’s workforce – have now received the Dementia Friends awareness sessions. These include many of British Gas’ 10,000 engineers and thousands of staff across 13 contact centres.
More than 100 people at British Gas’ contact centre in Cardiff and at its training site in Tredegar have now become Dementia Friends. Over the coming weeks, a total of 1,500 people across the two sites will receive Dementia Friends awareness sessions. Many other local engineers – who regularly visit customers’ homes – are also becoming Dementia Friends.
The Dementia Friends programme helps staff to understand the challenges people with dementia may face – whether customers or their own friends and family – and how they can better support them.
British Gas has worked with customers living with dementia to help tailor services, such as its Power of Attorney scheme, to be more dementia friendly. The company also offers customers requiring extra support the opportunity to join its Priority Services Register, which provides access to additional support services such as free gas safety checks for almost three million customers.
Since June, British Gas has recorded around 3,000 calls from families, friends and carers of customers living with dementia to ask for them to be added to the Priority Services Register.
Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said:
“We are taking action to support those in Wales with dementia. I welcome this announcement and the partnership working between British Gas and the Alzheimer’s Society and hope that those able to get help benefit from this initiative.”
Steve Crabb, Director responsible for Consumer Vulnerability at British Gas, said:
“Our engineers and our people in contact centres are the first port of call for many of our customers. That’s why we’re delighted that 20,000 of our people have committed to becoming Dementia Friends.”
“Reaching this important milestone in our work with the Alzheimer’s Society is an important part of our commitment towards becoming a dementia-friendly organisation.”
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“Dementia is one of the greatest challenges we face in society today and is set to become the 21 century’s biggest killer. So we are delighted that British Gas is getting ready to help customers with dementia this winter by making a commitment to become more dementia-friendly. Becoming a dementia-friendly business is a socially responsible step and has added business benefits. We encourage all utility companies to work with us and do the same.”
Alzheimer’s Society offers general advice to help support those living with dementia here.
Find out more about British Gas’ Priority Services Register here or call 0800 072 8625 to find out more about extra support available for loved ones this winter.