Being able to manage our money and deal with financial services is a fundamental aspect of life. But when a person develops dementia, this can become extremely difficult and lead to feelings of lost independence.
There are currently over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This number continues to rise, with another person developing dementia every three minutes. The cost of dementia is £26 billion a year (based on 2013 cost data).
From our own research, we know:
- When using a bank, 66 per cent of people with dementia need some assistance.
- 76 per cent of people with dementia experienced difficulties when using a bank.
- When paying bills, 70 per cent of people with dementia need assistance.
- Of the carers we asked, 80 per cent said banks need a greater understanding of lasting powers of attorney.
- 84 per cent of carers help people with dementia deal with the bank.
At present, there is a lack of standardisation across the financial services sector. Regulatory bodies provide guidance, but it is difficult to ensure consistency. Our new action plan for financial services provides a clear, best practice framework for people affected by dementia.
Why do we need dementia-friendly financial services?
1. To improve awareness and understanding of dementia
As dementia becomes a growing concern, we must create a society that is more understanding of how it can affect someone. We need those we interact with daily to be able to offer support and appropriate advice for those who need it most.
2. To enable effective communication between organisations and their customers
By recording the challenges of a person with dementia, a financial service can support and tailor interactions to suit needs. Individuals can interact independently with their chosen bank or financial service for as long as possible.
3. To create a supportive environment for staff
The UK statutory retirement age is rising and the number of people with dementia is expected to rise to 1 million by 2021. This means we will see many more people developing dementia whilst still in employment. Ensuring a dialogue is started with staff can improve staff retention and increase staff productivity. In addition it can encourage empathy, reduce recruitment costs, and ultimately increase revenue.
4. To ensure they are offering suitable products
Not providing suitable products can be seen as discriminatory. Some may choose to opt out of certain products, or risk rejecting their financial services and relying on others who might take advantage.
5. To spot crime, prevent fraud and financial abuse
With financial abuse continuing to rise, financial services have a duty of care to their customers. They must ensure customers are properly protected and have appropriate safeguards in place.
6. To support friends, family and carers
The time after a diagnosis of dementia can be full of uncertainty and worry, particularly when it comes to dealing with finances. Financial services can make this easier for families by offering them proper advice and signposting. This will make a real difference when they need it most.
Our six-point financial action plan sets out a clear strategy for financial organisations to work towards. Each commitment specifies a different action that can be taken to meet it, giving organisations the option to develop a plan that suits them. The more organisations that sign up to the action plan, the more we will start to see a standard emerging across the board in how financial services interact with people affected by dementia.
We advise you download our dementia-friendly financial services charter for your reference in completing our new six-point action plan.