A Friend marks the spot

A treasure map, with steps to take to become more dementia-friendly, has been rolled out to all Priceline Pharmacies as the organisation edges closer to becoming a Dementia Friendly Organisation. 

As part of the initiative, pharmacy staff undertook steps in the treasure map including completing an online training module, downloading the dementia-friendly language guidelines, signing up to be a  Dementia Friend and considering and implementing two practical initiatives to make their environment more dementia-friendly.

Four pharmacies stood out for their practical innovations. Maryborough in Victoria, Norwood in South Australia, Yass in New South Wales, and Beaumaris in Western Australia.

Representatives from each of these pharmacies were recognised by Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe and Business Development Executive Direction Leanne Emerson, at a special celebration at the Dementia Australia Melbourne offices. 

Some of the changes identified by the Priceline staff included: 

  • wearing the Dementia Friends badges so people living with dementia know they are in a safe and accepting environment,
  • providing a handout that explaining who the pharmacy staff are to customers  living with dementia and their families,
  • visual changes to medications to help people understand what times of the day to take their medications, and 
  • reducing signs which may be visually overwhelming in the clinic room. Instead the room now boasts three hand drawn and calming pictures. 

Elise Wan, Pharmacist at the Beaumaris Pharmacy said the changes created had made an immediate and noticeable impact. 

"The changes in the clinic room has helped relax many of our patients young and old. In fact, customers who were previously scared of finger prick tests suddenly have the courage to go through with it - with one customer willing to sit through multiple tests while we were talking about the pictures!"

In addition to the changes identified through the Treasure Map competition, the majority of stores in the Priceline network have made changes to improve the experience of people living with dementia. Some examples have been to change toilet seats to blue (contrast colouring is key), removing dark mats as they may seem a barrier or hole in the floor and ensuring music is at a level that is not intimidating for shoppers. Pharmacies are also clearing clutter from key aisles and introducing clear signage so customers can navigate aisles and find products more easily.


Left to Right // Beaumaris clinic room BEFORE and AFTER


The Priceline Partnership

From Priceline National Dispensary Operations Manager, Regina Cowie

“Priceline Pharmacy’s vision is to be the inspirational choice of beauty, health and wellbeing for women, and dementia is the leading cause of death for women so it’s a natural fit for us to work together. We want to make a difference to the lives of those living with dementia by ensuring our pharmacies are safe and welcoming environments, and our customer needs are understood and met. Additionally, Dementia Australia is a key partner in our Priceline Sisterhood Foundation so it’s a perfect fit.

The support from staff has been incredible. To date we have rolled out dementia training to more than 500 staff across Australia who were also given the opportunity to experience EDIE™ - the Virtual Reality Experience allowing them to walk in the shoes of someone with dementia. Staff now have a deeper understanding of the impact of dementia and a deeper sense of empathy for individuals living with this condition. 

With more than 85 per cent of our network signing up to be Dementia Friends and making significant changes to our retail space, we are proud of what we have achieved and excited about the future.  

We would encourage other organisations to get involved as no matter how small the contribution, it helps people living with dementia and their carers feel part of the community. Dementia Australia has been a great team to work with, making our changes easy to implement and successful. We are happy to share our experience with other organisations as this is a change we are very proud of.” 


The Priceline-Dementia Australia experience

From Dementia Australia Regional Director for Victoria and Tasmania, Marie Norman

Working with Priceline to become a Dementia-Friendly Organisation, and through the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation partnership, has been extremely successful so far. The commitment from the Priceline team to roll out this project has been extraordinary.

Becoming dementia-friendly means an organisation or business wants to make changes to their operations, procedures and environment to better meet the needs of people living with dementia, supporting them to live well and stay engaged within their communities. When a business is dementia-friendly it becomes more accessible, leading to more positive customer experiences, and better outcomes for people living with dementia, their families and carers. 

This is especially important for health providers and services, including pharmacies. People living with dementia may need extra understanding and support when they are visiting the pharmacy. The experiences of the person living with dementia will vary but may include:

  • Have problems remembering what they are doing
  • Have difficulties in communicating clearly
  • Have problems handling money
  • Have problems navigating in complex or confusing environments
  • Language and word finding impairments
  • They may appear to have no symptoms at all

How staff respond to people experiencing these issues can make a real difference for the person living with dementia.

This experience with Priceline has been really positive and if there are other organisations considering working towards being a Dementia Friendly Organisation, I would say – get in contact! We welcome enquiries as this process has been shown to be not only rewarding for those living with dementia but also just as rewarding for staff who can make a difference.