Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights), Alzheimer’s Society
Head of Vulnerable Customer Strategy, Santander UK
People living with dementia can face various challenges with banking and may worry about staying financially independent. Dementia-friendly banking services are there to help.
There’s an emotional side to money and banking that, ordinarily, we don’t think about. Yet financial independence is central to all our lives because it puts us in control. If you are living with dementia, however, and starting to become confused about money or banking, you may feel as though that control is slipping away. This can be devastating for your wellbeing and self-esteem.
“Many people affected by dementia — people living with the condition, their carers and family members — tell us they have concerns around banking,” says Sam Cox, Knowledge Officer, Alzheimer’s Society. “They may be worried about remembering PINs and security details, falling victim to scams, or having challenges using ATMs. On top of this, people with dementia have been hit hardest by the pandemic, with relatives telling us they have seen an increase in their loved one’s symptoms because of lockdown isolation. People need support now more than ever.”
Creating dementia-friendly initiatives
Since 2019, Alzheimer’s Society has been working with Santander UK to help make its culture and banking services dementia friendly. Two Alzheimer’s Society colleagues have even been seconded to the bank to act as an in-house sounding board. “Partnerships like this help educate us about the needs of people affected by dementia, who may be more vulnerable,” reveals Dorothy Liviabella, Head of Vulnerable Customer Strategy, Santander. “It’s been hugely beneficial to have expert insight from Alzheimer’s Society embedded in our organisation.”
It’s led to various service and product improvements to help those affected by dementia. Some are simple, but effective: “If someone lets us know about a condition they’re experiencing, like dementia, we can put a support note on their customer profile,” says Liviabella. “This tells all colleagues — wherever they are in the bank — what sort of support they might require, such as needing extra time to collect their thoughts, or that they have trouble remembering PINs. That’s why we’re encouraging all customers affected by dementia to let us know so we can put the right support in place for them.”
Retaining independence while feeling protected
The bank offers a range of Supported Banking options to ensure customers can put the right amount of support in place at the right time, to help them maintain their independence. The Carer’s Card allows a customer to give a trusted third party a card of their own, to help with things like withdrawing cash and shopping. Third Party Access can be arranged, to give the customer more support with day-to-day banking whilst retaining control. A Power of Attorney can also be appointed so that plans are in place for when the customer may lose the ability to manage their bank account themselves later down the line.
Over 54% of Santander UK’s colleagues became Dementia Friends in 2020, an Alzheimer’s Society awareness programme that is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia, changing the way people think, act and talk about the condition. Key colleagues also received specialist Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Ambassadors training. “Ultimately, we want people living with dementia to remain independent for as long as possible, while feeling protected, supported and confident that they are dealing with a dementia-friendly organisation,” says Liviabella.
One customer and his wife recently revealed that their lives had changed dramatically after he was diagnosed with early onset dementia. She has since become his carer as well as a partner and they have felt extremely isolated. We created a joint account for them and told the Department for Work and Pensions about the new account so that his pension could be credited correctly. Both customers were overwhelmed that we could put a support note on his profile and were amazed by our dementia-friendly services.Laura Bull, Santander Branch Director
Santander UK plc. Registered Office: 2 Triton Square, Regent’s Place, London, NW1 3AN, United Kingdom. Registered Number 2294747. Registered in England and Wales. www.santander.co.uk. Telephone 0800 389 7000. Santander and the flame logo are registered trademarks. Copyright © Santander UK plc. All rights reserved.