South Australian bank goes dementia-friendly
BANKSA is taking the lead among the banks in South Australia by implementing a range of measures to make its branches dementia-friendly for its customers.
Using virtual reality technology, it's staff are gaining an understanding of what the world looks like through the eyes of a person living with dementia. They are being introduced to some of the challenges that a customer with dementia might experience in undertaking a routine daily task and then shown what how small changes can significantly improve the banking experience.
BankSA chief executive, Nick Reade, said that as the incidence of dementia in the community grows, it is important to provide increased support for customers.
"South Australia has an ageing population and we are living longer than ever before, so it's increasingly important that our customers with dementia are able to continue to manage their finances for as long as possible," he said.
"BankSA branch teams have been trained to identify the signs of dementia and create a more comfortable experience and help reduce any stress or anxiety a customer may feel when doing their everyday banking.
"Additionally, should a customer or their carer let us know, we can identify, record and maintain the files of a customer with dementia to ensure a greater level of support."
Branch manager Denise Brown said the dementia-friendly initiative is already providing better outcomes for customers. "Several of our regular customers live with dementia, and through this program we've been able to provide a much better experience for them," she said.
"For example, we have a customer who started coming into the branch every week, instead of every fortnight, to collect her pension. At first we only had to gently remind her that pension day was the next week, but over the course of several months she started to become more anxious about her correct pension day and stressed that she wouldn't be able to pay her bills.
"But one day she came in with her daughter who we subtly let know about the situation. In turn, we made arrangements with the daughter for money to be transferred into her mum's account on a weekly basis instead of fortnightly, which helped reduce her mum's stress."
BankSA's branch technology has been upgraded to help staff to identify, record and maintain the files of a customer who has been nominated as having a vulnerability, putting in place a dementia-friendly banking plan. The staff are also able to refer vulnerable customers to Dementia Australia for further assistance, if required.