Saturday, April 9

Dementia-Friendly Bussing


Bus company succeeds at becoming dementia-friendly.

First UK Bus is one of Britain's largest bus operators, carrying around 2.3 million people every day for school, work and leisure. For some years, they have been actively looking to improve the way we assist people living with disabilities and health conditions.

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In 2012, through the Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, they decided to take up the Prime Minister's Challenge and consider how to make our services more accessible for those living with dementia. First worked in partnership with Alzheimer's Society to produce a training module for our 13,500 drivers that forms part of the annual Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. The objective was to raise awareness of dementia, so our drivers would be equipped to help someone experiencing difficulties while traveling with us.

In autumn 2012, with the package complete, First began rolling it out to the trainers, who would then train the drivers. The number of people affected by dementia and the emotional impact of the training became apparent early on. They therefore had to ensure that their trainers understood how to handle the effect of the course on our drivers. They began to deliver the course to drivers at the end of 2012. The Introduction to Dementia session lasts for two and a half hours, and First have received numerous comments from trainers and drivers about how useful and well received the training was.

In addition, the Safe Journey Card -- with which people can discreetly let our drivers know if they need extra help -- is a flexible, low-tech solution for those living with dementia.

Transport is a crucial aspect in allowing people with dementia to retain their confidence to get out and about in their communities. First UK Bus' work to assist people with dementia and other disabilities is an extension of good customer service, and something other businesses should look into. 

This is just one example of how businesses across the country, large and small, are taking steps to become dementia friendly. This is through a range of activities such as providing services for people with dementia, raising awareness of dementia within their organization, utilizing technology to improve quality of life for people with dementia, and ensuring the services they offer are adapted for the needs of people with dementia. 

The Dementia Friendly Communities program focuses on improving inclusion and quality of life for people with dementia. The Alzheimer's Society's five year strategy includes a key ambition to work with people affected by dementia and key partners to define and develop dementia friendly communities. Dementia Friends is a key part of the Dementia Friendly Communities program. The Prime Minister's challenge on dementia also includes an ambition to create communities that are working to help people live well with dementia.

For more information on Dementia Friendly Communities visit http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlycommunities

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