East of England Coop

The East of England Co-operative is the largest independent retailer in East Anglia, and one of the UK’s largest consumer Co-operatives. A responsible, ethical retailer, the East of England Co-op operates over 200 outlets across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, including food stores, funeral services, stone masonry, Post Offices, pharmacies, travel and optical branches, security services, petrol forecourts, a property division and an events and conference centre. The East of England Co-op is owned by its members; hundreds of thousands of customers and employees from local communities who receive a share in profits and have a say in how it’s run. What sets us apart from other businesses is that we use profit to bring action to important local issues. From funding vital equipment for local hospitals to support for local food banks to bringing about community change to improve the lives of local people. Our vision is to be trusted as the first choice locally, an aspiration that is driven by our food retail strategy, supported by other areas of the business.

18 November 2016
East of England
Businesses and shops, Retail
Local Alliances:
Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance , Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance , Braintree District Dementia Action Alliance , Bury St Edmunds Dementia Action Alliance , Colchester Dementia Action Alliance , Felixstowe Dementia Action Alliance , Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance, Tendring Dementia Action Alliance , Needham Market Dementia Action Alliance , Stowmarket Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Local role :

Dementia touches the lives of millions of people – 50,000 in our region alone – and there’s no cure. In a survey carried out by Alzheimer’s UK, 23% of participants said that they have had to stop shopping as a result of living with dementia. 35% of people said they only leave the house once a week, and 10% said they only leave the house once a month – the reason why, because they needed to do a shop. This highlighted to us how important our role was as the local store, and how if we could create an environment where people felt confident and safe to shop, it could help them retain their independence and feel part of their community for longer. In July 2014 we pledged to become the leading dementia friendly retailer in our region. The Dementia Friendly Retail initiative is embedded as a core business strategy, organisation wide and commits to five key objectives:

1. 'Everyone' is aware of and understands dementia

2. Adapting the physical environment, were appropriate

3. Work to become a dementia friendly employer

4. Support dementia friendly community initiatives

5. Sharing our learning and influencing others - our co-operative way.

 National Role:

To work with the Alzheimer's Society to develop best practice linked to retail and other specialist services to influence and support other organisations

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Listen and Learn:

 There is far more to living with dementia than many of us truly understand. Take the time to listen and learn from those with more knowledge than yourself, whether a health professional, a carer or family member, and most importantly the people living with dementia to really understand what it is that would make a positive impact on their lives. Leadership Support Working to become dementia friendly across a food retail business requires leadership buy in, strategic vision and steering direction alongside a financial commitment

Colleague Engagement > 4500:

Delivering Dementia Friends sessions alone does not guarantee a dementia friendly business. To be a true Dementia Friendly business you need every member of the business to connect with your vision rationally and emotionally. Make sure everyone knows why it’s critical for business and strive to engage and inspire colleagues by creating meaningful opportunities - storytelling, volunteering, fundraising, or engaging with people living with dementia through local alliances or support groups.

 Other Business Engagement:

Apathy from businesses not recognising the social and economic benefits of becoming a dementia friendly retailer - it's not just about doing the right thing it's good business sense and competitive advantage.

Public Perception:

Whilst the awareness of dementia has been gathering momentum there is still a wide spread lack of understanding amongst the general public. Fear, stigma, suffering still have a strong presence versus understanding that people can live well with dementia with the right support.


 It’s a marathon not a sprint. Becoming a dementia friendly business is not a quick fix, tick box exercise. It’s a long term investment that can improve business sustainability and positively shape the future of your customers, colleagues - everyone.

Member website


2. Actions

  • 'Everyone' is aware of and understands dementia - colleagues

    Working with the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Action Alliance, University of Suffolk and the Alzheimer’s Society, we embarked on a programme of awareness raising and training and created four bespoke learning opportunities to run alongside Dementia Friends Sessions.

    • Shopping in their Shoes – an experiential learning challenge taking place in-store. Colleagues experienced what shopping with dementia may be like (physical and psychological challenges) with the use of ageing suits. This was filmed to form part of the e-learning so colleagues could hear first-hand experience from peers.
    • e-Learning – 25 minute interactive on-line session for store colleagues
    • Face-to-Face sessions targeting our office based colleagues. Sessions addressed stigma, shopping challenges and caring for the carer
    • ‘Handling Difficult Situations’- a tailored session for our Security Team using real life scenarios - a customer living with dementia leaves the store without paying. Is this theft or did they simply forget?

    Target  80% uptake:  Outcome as of Oct 2016 = 87%  colleagues have voluntarily undertaking the training so far – that’s 3,906 signed up as Dementia Friends.


    2017: Work to becoming dementia friendly funeral service 

    Being implemented

    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    New member

  • Raising dementia awareness in the wider community

    We’ve also orchestrated a number of initiatives to get dementia ‘out in the open’ in the wider community:

    • Award winning actor Trevor Smith’s ‘An evening with Dementia’ – performed to >100 clinicians Ipswich Hospital
    • ‘Over the Garden Fence’, HAYLO Theatre production performed to 180 Year 8 students and 140 members of the public, Norwich.
    • Alzheimer’s Society, Sue Ryder, Age UK and Dementia Adventure all guests at our county events (Norfolk, Suffolk & Tendring shows) reaching thousands of people, providing information and advice.
    • £5,000 sponsorship for new intergenerational competition bringing school children and people living with dementia together, making friends and learning from each other. 
    • Jack Brock, a dementia friendly pony, was our Dementia Awareness Ambassador at the Norfolk Show. His presence was a real conversation starter.
    • Dementia double page spread in Members’ Magazine for last two years  - circulation 130,000
    • Introduced ‘Forget Me Not Friday’ internal and stores raising >£5,000   
    Being implemented

    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    new member

  • Adapting the physical environment, where appropriate

    We’ve visited Synergy and Forget Me Not Cafes, undertaken shopping surveys and in-store focus groups, listening to our customers with dementia to understand what we can do to improve their shopping experience.

    Currently planning our first ‘dementia friendly flagship store’, including the introduction of an orientation point, improved signage, how to get to and from the toilet, in-store seating, removing the pound from the trolley, replacing black door mats and pilot registered shopping to include free home delivery and a help button worn by shoppers.    

    Initial discussions with Sterling University as potential project partners   - ongoing

    Investigating, Planning

    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    new member

  • Support wider community dementia friendly initiatives

    • Recently organised the launch of Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance (IDAA).
    • Dementia Friends Session delivered to 125 cub scouts as part of their Million Hands Project
    • Our Co-op Cuppa scheme provides a year’s supply of free tea to >84 dementia support groups - ongoing
    • Leading the Let’s Make Ipswich Dementia Friendly campaign - working with Mayor of Ipswich and IDAA - ongoing.  
    Delivery, Implementation

    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    new member

  • Sharing our learning and influencing others – our co-operative way

    Co-author of ‘Becoming a dementia friendly retailer: A practical Guide, National publication (Alzheimer’s Society UK)

    Participation in a national business pilot (Alzheimer’s Society UK) - ongoing

    Minnie Moll, Joint CEO, has been appointed HRH Prince of Wales’ Ambassador for Responsible Business in the East of England. At the forefront of her pledge is raising dementia awareness in the business community.

    The role comes with a database of 1,000 businesses across the region who we’ll offer business to business support alongside our e-learning package and shopping in the shoes film for free.

    Implementation, Planning

    2016 - Fourth Quarter Update

    new member