Wilkins Chimney Sweep has recently teamed up with Home Instead Senior Care, who specialise in providing at-home care for the elderly, to give their chimney sweeping franchisees a few tips on how to cope with a client who is suffering from dementia, or any similar age-related mental illness.
In his address to the franchisees, John Kirk, owner of Home Instead Senior Care Swindon & Vale of White Horse, talked about recognising the external signs that a person may be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and how to deal with potentially difficult issues such as a client becoming confused or distressed.
John explains: “I wasn’t at the Wilkins Chimney Sweep conference to teach the sweeps how to become care-givers but simply to give them a few tips on dealing with elderly members of the public, who they meet during their normal working day.
“When somebody is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, they can become quite distressed at their own inability to remember small things, for instance if they have already paid the sweep’s bill, but by using some of the techniques I shared with them, I hope they should feel better able to deal with similar situations in the future.”
Commenting on the link-up between the franchises, he added: “I’m delighted that Louise Harris [franchise director at Wilkins] recognised the need to offer this training to her franchisees; I only wish more businesses dealing with clients in their homes were as sympathetic and elderly-aware. With cities such as Stirling and York aiming to be the first ‘Dementia Friendly’ towns in the UK, maybe Wilkins have started another initiative of ‘Dementia Friendly’ franchise companies?”
Louise Harris said: “Our sweeps work in customers’ homes and sometimes find themselves with people who are a little confused. Frequently, just good customer service skills are all that is required, but John was able to provide us with some techniques that were simple but powerful and should help avoid embarrassment for either party.
“We’re so glad to have had the chance to work with another franchise; I love John’s idea of being a ’Dementia Friendly’ company and our franchisees fully embraced the idea too.”
Franchisee John Baldacchino has familial experience of dementia, but still learnt a lot. “Having a father who has suffered with dementia for the last five years I have a good understanding of the stress and pressure it can bring those suffering and their carers,” he said. “Even with that experience, John Kirk was able to share some great advice to myself and the other sweeps on the possible issues we may face whilst in our customers’ homes, how to manage difficult situations and minimise any risks of being in the home of those who suffer.
“Listening to John speak it was clear he has both a passion for his clients and a great understanding of their needs; I have already used some of his strategies both personally and professionally with success. It won’t make me a better chimney sweep, but it might make me a better guest in my customer’s homes.”
Pip Wilkins, operations manager at the bfa, who also attended the talk said: “We always encourage our members to work closely with each other and it’s great to see that happening in this case for such an admirable purpose. One of the great things about the bfa community is that it is very close-knit and businesses will actively help each other. This is a wonderful example of two franchisors working together, not only for the mutual benefit of their businesses but also, and most importantly in this case, for the good of their clients.”