Funeral Partners has become the first funeral company in the industry to back the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign, tackling the issue with a training programme aimed at educating staff about the illness.
The campaign was established in 2012 by Norman McNamara, who was diagnosed with dementia when he was just 50. Mr McNamara, known as Norrms, has now given talks to staff from more than 26 Funeral Partners’ branches, from Devon to Hampshire, the New Forest to Woking and Dorset. It is hoped the programme will be rolled out to others in the group.
Phillip Hutchings, South West Branch Development Manager for Funeral Partners, said: “I worked in the care industry for 23 years before joining Funeral Partners and became very aware of the problems people have with dementia. “As a result, we felt it was important that staff were educated about the different types of dementia, so we can help relatives in mourning who have the disease, or can talk to them about loved ones who may have had the illness when they died.”
Mr Hutchings, who is now a global ambassador for the campaign, volunteers at the Purple Angel Memory Café which is open on Saturdays at the Barton Baptist Church in Torquay. Drakes of Torbay also supports activities at the café. Mr McNamara said: “We are extremely encouraged by Funeral Partners, whose team now has a better understanding of what people with dementia are struggling with, such as confusion or communication problems, and can give them extra time when helping them to plan funerals for loved ones.
“They can also support people who have lost relatives to dementia and who may have been mystified by this disease. A funeral director is the last port of call when they
lay a person to rest so it is a really good idea for the funeral director to feel comfortable about talking about it and give the family some closure. “We have explained how they need to speak to people, not to say things too quickly but give relevant information in short sentences. We have also given them literature, which explains the signs of dementia so they know what to look out for. “By displaying the Purple Angel logo in their branch and vehicle windows, the funeral firms are providing reassurance to
customers that they are aware of dementia and can offer families the additional support they need, at what is already a difficult time.”