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Ridley & Hall is a firm committed to delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers. Whilst we have been involved with promoting the cause of those living with dementia for some time. Over the past few years we have dedicated significant time and resources to become a more dementia friendly organisation and to continue to raise awareness. It is a campaign that is important to many of our staff who have been affected in some way by the condition.
2017 – We continue to raise awareness for dementia. On Saturday 21st January Ridley & Hall took the lead in supporting the Dementia Friendly Lindley project.
The whole event was about creating a “dementia friendly community”, Lindley was the first community in Kirklees to take part in this initiative.
Our private client team held a stall at the event providing advice and support in addition to providing helpful materials including twiddle-muffs and guides. Members of the public were advised on numerous topics from the support that is available, wills, powers of attorney and so forth. Our Dementia Champions were also in attendance.
Specialist, Legal 500-listed Wills & Probate team
Professionally, we have longstanding experience of advising people with dementia and their families, not only through Ridley & Hall but also through our specialist service for elderly clients – Elderflower. In particular, our Wills & Probate team is very highly recommended in the Legal 500. Our professional services include powers of attorney, Wills, house sales and purchases, asset protection trusts, and handling inheritance disputes.
In addition to raising awareness of dementia itself, we also give regular talks to community groups to express the importance of having suitable up to date Wills and powers of attorney prior to any loss of mental capacity. Through our Wills & Probate department, we are able to offer specialist advice on obtaining statutory Wills for people who lack capacity to make their own Will. We can also advise on applications to the Court of Protection where individuals are no longer able to manage their own financial affairs.
Trained, dementia-friendly staff & Dementia Friends Champions
Over thirty members of our staff have participated in Dementia Friends information sessions which is an Alzheimers Society initiative set up to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people whose lives are affected by dementia. We aim to deliver Dementia Friends information sessions to more of our staff, making it part of our induction process, and have four in-house Dementia Friends Champions who can deliver the sessions. We also intend to source more in-depth training for those members of staff whose work brings them into contact most regularly with clients affected by dementia. Please click here to see our progress to date.
Safe environment in adapted, accessible offices
One challenge we face is that our offices are in a former hotel, which is a listed building where disabled access is less than ideal, not to mention a series of doors and corridors to negotiate. We conducted an audit of our offices and as a result have improved all the signage within our offices to make them easier to navigate and therefore more dementia-friendly. We have considered the other facilities within the building to see if further adjustments are necessary and will monitor this on an ongoing basis.
We try to make all our clients and visitors to the office feel welcome, but appreciate that people with dementia can feel vulnerable in unfamiliar surroundings. Our staff will do everything possible to make any vulnerable clients feel safe and secure whilst on our premises and when leaving to go to their next destination. We pride ourselves on a high standard of client care, and whilst this is applied to all clients, we feel it is particularly important to cater for clients who may perhaps be less able than others, to help them maintain their independence.
We need to ensure that all of our staff are involved in improving how we communicate with, meet and advise people whose lives are affected by dementia. This is not always easy, working in a law firm, as we often need to use legal terms, however we do endeavour to make our literature and communications clear, by using plain language wherever possible.
Home visits available
Whilst we have tried to adapt our offices as much as possible to cater for all our clients’ needs, we understand that dementia can affect people in different ways, with symptoms ranging from memory loss, to confusion in unfamiliar environments, to anxiety using public transport and difficulty in communicating. To try to alleviate the stress which may be associated with coming to see us at our town centre premises, we can arrange to come and visit you at home or hospital if required. We believe that everybody deserves the right to access legal services and will do what we can to accommodate your needs.
Member organisation of the Dementia Action Alliance
As part of our mission, Ridley & Hall joined the Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance (KDAA) in 2014 and were the 100th organisation to join in the Yorkshire & Humberside region. The Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) is a movement with one simple aim – to bring about a society-wide response to dementia. It encourages and supports communities and organisations across England to take practical actions to enable people to live well with dementia and reduce the risk of costly crisis intervention. Further information is available through the Dementia Action Alliance website. All DAA members publish individual action plans on the DAA website. Ridley & Hall’s action plan (published in 2014 and updated in 2015) is set out here. Our managing partner, Adam Fletcher, is the chair of the KDAA and we have links with a number of other relevant charitable organisations including strong links with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Signposting to support services
Being an integral part of the dementia friendly community also enables us to utilise our network of contacts and point clients in the right direction to any dementia support services that they may need. This highlights the importance of the Dementia Action Alliance to us and our clients and provides access to key groups and organisations to both the person living with dementia and their family and friends.