BUSINESSES in Swindon and the wider county are being urged to become more dementia friendly.

Wiltshire councillor Alison Bucknell stressed the importance for staff in Royal Wootton Bassett to improve their understanding of the conditions as part of Dementia Action week.

She said: “The right thing to do is to enable people living with dementia to be part of their community for as long as possible.

“Staff may well have family living with dementia and you have a duty under the Equalities Act to not discriminate against people who are carers or ill.

“It is important therefore to have good policies for your staff to enable them to fulfil their caring responsibilities alongside their job.

“It makes good business sense. People with dementia and their families may well have money to spend and businesses need customers.

“If a person with dementia has a bad experience then they or their friends may well talk about this and turn customers away.”

Dementia Action Week, which runs until tomorrow, is a national campaign encouraging people to take action to improve the lives of people diagnosed with dementia.

The initiative is supported by Caring About Dementia, a Royal Wootton Bassett group formed three years ago to raise awareness in the community.

Coun Bucknell added: “We are not asking businesses to spend a fortune. We are inviting them to send staff on a dementia friends information session to increase their understanding of what it is like to live with dementia and how they can take some small steps towards accommodating this."

It is estimated that more than 2,000 people in Swindon are living with dementia, and approximately 850,000 across the UK. It is believed that these numbers will increase over the next couple of years due to an increase in the number of people aged over 65.

Swindon set up a five-year dementia strategy from 2014-19 to improve the lives of people affected by dementia and build friendly communications as well as better facilities.

Among the other groups to have also taken steps to promote the campaign is Purton Parish Council, which is holding an event at Purton Village Hall today from 10am to 2pm.

A spokeswoman for the parish council said: “You don’t need to be living with dementia or know anyone who is coming along, you just need to care.”

Those interested in joining Caring About Dementia in Wootton Bassett should email or The group meets every six weeks.