British Gas highlights support available to customers as new study reveals dementia knowledge gap

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New research for Dementia Action Week draws attention to the hidden day-to-day struggles faced by people living with dementia

  • Almost one-third (32%) of the nation have never considered that people living with dementia may struggle to manage their finances and pay household bills.
  • 40% of people know a friend or family member living with dementia, and 13% care for someone with the condition.
  • British Gas is calling on those who know of or care for someone with dementia to find out how their utilities supplier might be able to offer them additional support. 

New research released today has identified a national knowledge gap when it comes to the potential impact of living with dementia on everyday life. 

Launched to mark the start of Dementia Action Week, the research reveals that 40% of people know of a friend or family member living with the condition and 13% care for someone with dementia. 5% of survey respondents said they were living with dementia themselves.

When asked about potential concerns for people with dementia, 29% of respondents said they realise that feeling confused and disorientated is a concern for someone with dementia, but a higher percentage (32%) have never considered managing personal finances and paying bills as a potential issue.

British Gas, the company behind the study, believes it has at least 100,000 customers living alone in their own homes with dementia – one in every 100 households the company serves.

As part of Dementia Action Week, the company is raising awareness of the day-to-day struggles faced by people living with dementia, and encouraging customers to find out about the support available from their utilities providers. 

Steve Crabb, director of consumer vulnerability, Centrica said “Dementia Action Week is an important opportunity to highlight the impact dementia can have on every aspect of daily life. We want to ensure that people with dementia and those who care for them have access to the support they need.

“Since 2016, in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, more than two-thirds of our workforce across the country have become Dementia Friends so they can support customers affected by dementia and understand the issues they may face.

“This Dementia Action Week, we’re calling on people living with dementia to get in touch and find out how we can best support them. To give an example, there are more than 2.6 million accounts on the British Gas Priority Services Register, which gives vulnerable customers access to services such as alternative bill formats, free gas safety checks, extra help with meter readings and adaptors to help them manage their energy safely.” 

Keira Whitlock is a specially trained Dementia Champion, based at the British Gas office in Chandlers Ford near Southampton, helping the local community to better understand dementia. She said: “What strikes me the most when we go out and meet people in the area, is that everyone knows someone who’s been affected by dementia.  People can relate to what we’re saying and we can make a real difference to their lives.  So many people tell us they wish they’d known sooner about the help that’s available.” 

Dementia Action Week is an initiative led by Alzheimer’s Society, encouraging people across the country to take action and help improve the everyday lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them.  Earlier this year, Alzheimer’s Society worked with British Gas and other organisations to launch Britain’s first practical guide to help utilities companies better support customers affected by dementia.

Emma Bould from Alzheimer’s Society, said “In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes and almost everyone knows someone whose life has been affected. Yet too many people face the condition alone without adequate support. Alzheimer’s Society is determined to change this and is encouraged to see organisations such as British Gas playing a part in creating a dementia-friendly UK. Get involved this Dementia Action Week and unite against dementia by visiting alzheimers.org.uk/DAW”

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