Dementia initiative in banking
FINANCES: Helpful service for sufferers of the disease
A Dundee-born woman has created a dementia-friendly banking initiative in New Zealand to honour a promise she made to her dying father.
Lorraine Hunter, who left Dundee for Auckland in 1985, was inspired to improve services for people living with alzheimer’s after experiencing her dad’s difficulties with finances.
She has spearheaded a campaign to turn New Zealand bank Westpac into a dementia-friendly service with a series of policy changes to assist customers who have the disease.
She said: “My dad (Gerry Third) lived in Dundee and Alzheimer Dundee and Alzheimer Scotland were very, very good to him when he was living with the illness.
“I wanted to try and make a difference to people living with the disease in Auckland where I live. It was part of a promise I made to my dad to say I would help other people who had the condition.
“Because I was in banking, and when my dad first showed signs of the illness, that was one of the biggest difficulties I noticed he had, I thought it would be the perfect thing for me to try to help with.”
Lorraine says customers now feel more comfortable sharing the fact that they have dementia with banking staff, at which point a note with this information is added to their account.
This helps ensure staff are aware of customers who might need extra patience and information, and also allows them to highlight any concerns with caregivers or family members.
Lorraine highlighted cases where customers had forgotten they had already taken money out and, by knowing they had alzheimer’s, staff are able to remind them they have already withdrawn cash and may not need to again.
Launched a year ago, it has gone from strength to strength, and Lorraine says feedback from customers has been “amazing”.
In 2013, the Bank of Scotland became the nation’s first official dementia friendly bank, in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland.
Lorraine fulfilled a promise to her dying dad.