My name is Katherine and my lovely mum Jo was diagnosed with dementia in 2005. In fact I think she had it well before I really knew. Her behaviour had become a bit odd sometimes. My mum had loved to go shopping and was brilliant at finding a bargain in the sales and then as mum started to become ill with dementia I liked to take her out and recreate old experiences, shopping for a winter coat, drinking tea and sandwiches in a local cafe or going to the supermarket. I was trying to hold onto something of her, something of our relationship. I wanted to do the ordinary things with her and have ordinary experiences. The dementia had started to take those away from us. The shopping trips became a more and more stressful experience both for her and for me but I didn’t want to give them up. I wanted my mum to be part of the world and not become isolated.
The experience of shopping changed as mum became increasingly separated from the ‘real’ world and I was left trying to mediate between my mother and the staff in the shop, who were not always understanding.
One day we arrived at the checkout and mum went to use her debit card in the card reader and she could not recall the number. I looked to the assistant for reassurance while talking to mum about letting me use my card. Mum insisted that the assistant could see the number and knew what to do. The checkout assistant looked uninterested and I felt very alone. I wondered if there was a way to help us in our experience of shopping. I was embarrassed and felt isolated. In those moments I knew there must be a better way to do this.
After my mum passed away I felt inspired to come up with the idea of Slow Shopping®, providing a welcoming and safe environment for anyone who needed to take more time to do their shopping. Slow Shopping® is inclusive and caters for those who suffer from anxiety or mental illness, those who struggle with communication or literacy, the elderly, those with dementia and all those who suffer from visible, invisible or intellectual disabilities. Slow Shopping® advocates dedicated times within the week where store staff are aware of the particular needs of their shoppers and allows them time and space. Chairs are available as well as help points in the store. Customers are not identified as having additional needs and there are no specialist aisles or separation which can be the source of more stress.
– Katherine Vero, Founder of Slow Shopping®