17 December 2012
Bus drivers to receive dementia training
Thousands of bus drivers across the country are receiving specialist training so they can better help passengers with dementia. This comes as part of an initiative by the Prime Minister that aims to encourage everyone to be more aware of the needs of people living with the condition.
In the First Group depot a training session took place for 11 members. Workers were asked to remember every detail on a 1p coin and draw them. Many were unable to remember most of he detail even though it is something they see every day. The trainer, Keith Sheard said, “Imagine if you forgot the detail in every aspect of your life – having breakfast, getting dressed – just imagine how frustrating that would be.”
The drivers were then asked to write down their most prized possession, a loved one, a skill they are especially proud of and a treasured memory and then one was taken away from them.
Keith said, “I was your dementia for that moment in time. Just take a moment to think what your life would be like without what I’ve just taken from you. And if you thought it couldn’t
get any worse, it does. Because over time, I’m going to come back and take everything else from you – so you’ll be left with absolutely nothing.”
The training also includes a discussion on how dementia affects the brain and how drivers can help their passengers who live with dementia. Keith explained some of the problems that can happen when dealing with these individuals. “You need to be aware of the difficulty of grasping day, date and time that people with dementia have. You might be telling me that my pass is out
of date or that I can’t use it until half past nine – but if time doesn’t have any real meaning to me, I don’t understand your point or why you’re getting so excited about it.”
This group of drivers will begin to train other First Group drivers and it is hoped that other transport companies will take up this kind of training.
Andrew Chidgey, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, which helped guide the training, said, “What this identifies for the drivers is they have a really important role in helping people in their community to remain independent. That’s also true for people like newsagents and other workers.”