In February of 2013, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services started a Secret Shopper project to try to identify what were the barriers for people living with dementia to sustain their independence whilst shopping. The secret shoppers were members of our Monday Club, a group of people with early onset dementia who meet on a Monday. The secret shoppers visit both National Chain Stores and Local Based Businesses. The aim is to help identify ways in which people living with dementia can remain independent and be able to maintain every day activities for as long as possible.
All visits are accompanied by a staff member, who remain at a distance, however is present to offer support if and when it is required.
Every visit is carefully planned and our secret Shopper will have decided on a specific item they intended on purchasing and after they attempted to purchase that item they complete a survey to try to capture what they enjoyed or disliked about the experience.
The results are collated and used to facilitate a discussion on what could be done to better meet the needs of a person with dementia when they shop. Options put forward included things like personal shoppers, assistance with packing bags and clearer signage.
Results have been presented to The Gravesend Dementia Friendly Community, who has retail representatives in the group. The hope is that by raising the issues facing people with early onset Dementia, minor changes can be made that will have a significant impact on that target group.
The project is ongoing and we intend to keep up our visits to all different types of stores.