Bus drivers sign up to Dementia Friends campaign

By Anita Jaynes on 15 November, 2016

Thamesdown Transport has signed up to the Dementia Friends campaign and 52 drivers so far have completed training to officially be recognised as a Dementia Friend.

The Dementia Friends initiative from the Alzheimer’s Society seeks to raise awareness of how people are affected by living with dementia and the ways in which anyone can help make their daily lives a little easier.

Driver Instructors Paul Banham and Phil Bailey have been trained as special Dementia Champions and as part of each driver’s customer service training, they deliver the dedicated dementia module.  The training covers the common difficulties people experience, including memory loss, problems communicating and confusion about time and place, and what drivers should do in order to make travelling easier and a much less stressful experience.  The Thamesdown Dementia Friends can be spotted by the blue flower badge they wear.

Peter Oliver, commercial director at Thamesdown, said: “All of our drivers are encouraged to sign up to be a Dementia Friend.   Having Dementia can make people feel isolated and apprehensive about going out and so our drivers can spot the signs and make getting the bus easier, whether that’s giving them the time they need to board or use their ticket, or identifying when someone might be confused due to their dementia and helping them get where they need to be.”

Chris Atkinson, operations manager – South England for Alzheimer’s Society added: “People living with dementia face a number of challenges when travelling by bus. It can be a confusing and stressful experience to access information on what buses will arrive, where they will go to and when they will stop. However, buses are a vital service for many people living with dementia who rely on them to live independently and travel to health appointments, go shopping and visit friends.

“It is brilliant to see Thamesdown Transport committing to raise awareness of dementia to their drivers and customer facing staff. Bus drivers understanding a bit more about dementia will ease the difficulties people with dementia face, supporting them to travel and live independently for longer. This initiative is a major contribution to other work that is being developed in Swindon to ensure people with dementia are valued and included in their community.

“On Friday November 25, Alzheimer’s Society and the Swindon Dementia Action Alliance together with Robert Buckland MP for South Swindon are organising a dementia summit to discuss how Swindon can become a dementia friendly town.”

For more information on Thamesdown’s routes and services, visit www.thamesdown-bus.com.

Pictured above: Dementia Champions Phil-Bailey and Paul Banham.