11 August 2014

Employers must adapt their working environment to support the increasing numbers affected by dementia or they risk losing billions, according to a report issued by Public Health England (PHE) and the Alzheimer's Society.

With the number of people with dementia expected to rise to 1.09 million by 2030, the report, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), claims that "dementia caring obligations" will cost companies more than £3 billion by that date.

The huge impact on businesses is expected to come, the report argues, as workers reduce hours, change work patterns or leave employment altogether, due to the demands of caring for family members.

"If companies increased their employment rate of dementia carers by just 2% over the years to 2030, for example by offering more flexible terms of employment, the retention of these skilled and experienced staff would deliver a saving of £415 million," the report claims.

More than 20 major businesses have already signed up and are committed to supporting staff and customers with dementia.

Over 100,000 employees from companies including LloydsPharmacy and Marks & Spencer are now Dementia Friends and a host of other companies such as Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Argos, BT and Bourne Leisure (Butlins, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels) have also said that their staff will join the campaign.

In Barclays, for example, almost a third of its customer-facing staff will become Dementia Friends.

PHE Chief Executive Duncan Selbie said: "It is encouraging to see that so many businesses are willing to make changes to accommodate those living with and caring for people with dementia."

Of those with dementia, 62% would like banks and shops to have a greater understanding of the condition as currently a quarter report that they have given up shopping since being diagnosed.

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner