Helping people live independently for longer

Posted on: 19/05/2021

Wales & West Utilities is reminding people to take action this Dementia Action Week.

Across the UK, there are more than 850,000 people currently living with dementia, with a further 225,000 people developing the condition this year alone: a new diagnosis every 3 minutes. By 2025, just 4 years away, it is expected that there will be over 1 million people living with the condition. And while it’s true that more people over 65 have dementia, it’s not exclusively an older person's disease, with early onset dementia affecting younger people too.

Dementia describes a range of different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive and debilitating. Whatever the exact type of dementia someone is living with, it can impact their interactions with their family, service providers, utility and others.

As the emergency gas service for Wales and south west England, we know that we must adapt our services, enhance the support we offer and make sure our colleagues have all the skills to meet the needs of the diverse and changing communities we serve.

Both office and operational colleagues have gone through Dementia Friends information sessions. From speaking slowly and clearly, to remembering that reflective signs and loud, vibrating machinery can be distracting to people living with dementia, we’re equipping our engineers with the skills they need to reassure people living with dementia and help them interact with our services.

Dementia Awareness week began on Monday, so it’s the perfect time to highlight the ways we can support people living with dementia to help them live independently for longer: Locking Cooker Valves & the Priority Services Register.

Locking Cooker Valves

When a Locking Cooker Valve is installed, it allows the cooker to be used under supervision and locked in the off position when a family member or carer leaves the house or room. The valve only isolates the cooker, which means the central heating system can still heat the home. They are suitable for customers who can no longer operate their gas cooker safely and who may be at risk of harming themselves and their home by leaving gas unignited or forgetting to turn the hob off, giving family or carers peace of mind that they will not come to harm when they are alone.

We can install a locking cooker valve free of charge in agreement with the family or carer of a priority customer. We’ve partnered with the other UK gas distribution networks: Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and SGN to offer this service free, regardless of your gas supplier (the company that send you your bill), and you don’t need to change energy supplier or inform them of the device.

Priority Services Register

Given the impact that dementia can have on the ability of people to interact with energy and other utilities, one of the easiest and quickest ways those most in need can be sure they’re able to get support is by signing up to the Priority Services Register (PSR). It helps gas, electricity and water companies look after people in the unlikely event of an interruption to their supply.  It also allows them to choose their own password to confirm engineers are genuine, while suppliers may be able to move a gas meter if customers cannot access it. And, suppliers can be asked to send their bill to anyone who has agreed to receive it (for example a family member or carer)

Who can join the PSR?

  • Households who have:
  • someone who is of pensionable age
  • someone under the age of 5 living with them
  • someone who is living with a chronic medical condition or is disabled
  • any other specific needs such as sight or hearing impairments

Take Action

If you know someone who is living with dementia – or matches the criteria for the priority service register, you can find out more hereWe’ve also partnered with the other UK gas distribution networks: Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and SGN to offer another free service. If you know someone living with dementia who you think could benefit from a Locking Cooker Valve, find out more and sign up here.


Author profile

Nigel Winnan

Nigel Winnan is Wales & West Utilities Customer and Social Obligations Manager.