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Australia’s first Dementia Friendly Bank – a partnership between St.George and Alzheimer’s Australia aims to help those living with dementia to remain financially independent for as long as possible.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO Maree McCabe says Dementia affects more than 413,000 Australians and by 2056 over 1.1 million Australians will have dementia.

“While there is no cure on the horizon, there are a number of strategies that can be put in place to minimise the impact, for the person with dementia, their carers, family and the community,” says Ms McCabe.

In a survey conducted by Alzheimer’s Australia for Dementia Awareness Month in September 94 per cent of respondents living with dementia have encountered embarrassing situations and 96 per cent feel less competent than before they were diagnosed.

“Financial services are one of those extremely important areas where we need more awareness and understanding, which is why we are very pleased St.George Bank has come on board to be officially dementia friendly.”

Being a Dementia Friendly Bank means that St.George has endeavoured to make banking safer, easier and more accessible for people living with dementia. They’ve done this by including measures such as:

  • Frontline staff officially accredited to be able to recognise, respond and assist customers living with dementia
  • Branches being audited by Dementia Australia to ensure safer environment
  • Branch technology upgraded to identify, record and maintain the files of a customer who has been nominated as having a vulnerability
  • St.George and Dementia Australia partnership also allows staff to refer vulnerable customers onto Dementia Australia for further assistance if required

General Manager for St.George Retail Bank Ross Miller says St.George has over 900,000 customers over the age 50, and of this population, approximately 13 per cent (123,000) may have some form of dementia.

“Our pilot program earlier in the year revealed how stress and anxiety can be diminished for dementia sufferers simply by making everyday banking as easy as possible,” says Mr Miller.

“Providing an increased level of care is the right thing to do for our customers and we believe fostering a dementia-friendly environment will help keep vulnerable customers’ financially independent for longer and less prone to financial abuse.”

Dementia training for bankers and call centre staff

All frontline St.George bankers and call centre staff have undertaken training to ensure they have both the education and skills required to identify and support a person living with dementia.

“Our new training program developed in conjunction with Dementia Australia has been instrumental in helping our bankers walk in the shoes of a person living with dementia, with many commenting how they didn’t realise the simplest things could be so hard,” says Mr Miller.

Technology and branch upgrades

Technology upgrades in the branch mean once a customer or carer notifies a banker of their condition, bankers can activate a ‘customer vulnerability alert’ on their profile. This helps bankers to set up a dementia-friendly banking plan that includes additional safeguards such as withdrawal limits and notification alerts.

Branches will also be audited by Dementia Australia who will apply a dementia-friendly lens in terms of layout, lighting, signage and quiet areas.

The Dementia Friendly Banking plan will also be rolled out to Westpac, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne.

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.