Punch Robson Solicitor, Rachael Hart, is all too familiar with the needs of dementia patients- on both a professional and a personal level. Specialising in Mental Health, Rachael regularly works with clients suffering from the disease, but her desire to support those with dementia is further strengthened by the diagnosis of a close family member.
After attending an event hosted by Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough, Rachael instantly knew that it was something she wanted Punch Robson to pursue. She said “I think it’s really important for firms to recognise and meet the requirements of their vulnerable customers. It can be a relief for dementia carers to see the ‘dementia friendly’ logo and know that the staff in that shop, café or wherever it might be, have awareness of the disease and are suitably equipped to deliver services to people with dementia.”
Being dementia friendly means that Punch Robson are helping to ensure that people with dementia can stay independent for as long as they are able, whilst receiving support when they need it. We are also working to make improvements and changes to our offices and services to ensure that those who are suffering from dementia can access them as easily and as safely as possible. Many other services in Middlesbrough have trained their staff to be dementia friendly, including Barclays, Marks and Spencer and Specsavers and we encourage others to follow.
Rachael explains that there are some simple things she learnt from attending the training course, such as having clear signs indicating en route to facilities within the building, using images on signs in addition to text and using black font on a yellow background. Some of Rachael’s clients that have been diagnosed with dementia also suffer with another mental illness and may not be able to speak or attend hearings in court. Rachael describes how flexibility and creativity are important in helping these clients; “It’s about finding other ways to help them, whether that means asking them to write things down, or attending a hearing on their behalf.”
In addition to leading Punch Robson to becoming a dementia friendly firm, Rachael and her colleague, Mike Cattermole, have both became Dementia Champions. Rachael said, “It enables us to deliver talks about dementia and to train others to become dementia friendly. It is great for raising awareness and ensuring that people with dementia can easily access the services they need.”