It seems Australia is starting to become more dementia friendly and aware, and it is exciting to be reading about new projects almost every week that will improve the lives of people with dementia and their families.
Samantha Donovan reported this story on Friday, September 20, 2013 18:34:00. I’m a bit late passing it on!
ASHLEY HALL: In an Australian first, taxi drivers and public transport workers in New South Wales are being trained in dementia awareness.
Alzheimer’s Australia says it’s a crucial development, as the number of people with dementia steadily increases. It’s anticipated other states will soon introduce similar training.
Samantha Donovan reports.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Not long before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Richard Kent found himself in trouble at Sydney’s Central Station.
RICHARD KENT: Not knowing what I was doing there and I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do and I sat down on the ground because I was afraid that I would fall off the platform and get hit by a train. It was a railway employee who very kindly came over and asked me if I was alright, mate, you know. And the fact he called me “mate” made me feel a lot more secure. And he said to me, “Would you like an ambulance?” I said, “Yes, I’m very sick.”
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Alzheimer’s Australia New South Wales says 109,000 people in the state have dementia.
New ferry staff will start getting the awareness training next week and other public transport recruits will be introduced to it in November.
CEO John Watkins says the need for training is clear.
JOHN WATKINS: Because people tell us about the problems that they have, that travelling can be a confusing situation for someone with dementia. Getting on a bus or choosing the right train becomes increasingly difficult.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: So what are taxi drivers or public transport staff being advised to do if they see someone is in a bit of trouble?
JOHN WATKINS: Firstly, treat the person with respect and regard because often someone who has dementia and who is lost, for example, becomes very anxious. So they need to be spoken to with some tolerance and, I suppose, understanding. And then to ask simple and straightforward questions of the person: Where do you want to go? Show me some identification so we can see where you live. And, if that’s not working, to radio back to base, seek further assistance there, and maybe bring it to the attention of emergency services.
But it’s more about an attitude rather than detail of what to do. It’s being open and aware that that person that is behaving strangely may be because they’re suffering a condition that means they need help.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The New South Wales Taxi Council is an enthusiastic supporter of the awareness training.
CEO Roy Wakelin-King.
ROY WAKELIN-KING: It’s now being provided to all drivers who attend their driver training and in New South Wales we also have a second tier of driver training which, we’re showing it to those drivers as well.
So we’re trying to spread the message as far and as wide as we can within the driving community. We’ve also provided it to our networks where they are doing additional training to make sure that they’ve got it available if they see a need to use it.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: But it’s not obligatory?
ROY WAKELIN-KING: At this point, it’s not obligatory for drivers who are already in the industry, but every new driver that comes in is being exposed to this training. And yes, taxi drivers are very busy, but at the end of the day we’re in the customer service business and we’ve got to provide a good level of customer service and that, at times, means helping people who have special needs.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The training will be launched in the Victorian taxi industry next month.
Alzheimer’s Australia expects other states and territories will soon introduce it in both the public transport sectors and the taxi industry.
Alzheimer’s patient Richard Kent says it’s vital.
RICHARD KENT: In future, people will be hopefully caring a lot more, because there’s an enormous amount of people out there, over 300,000 sufferers of dementia out there already today, and what happens to them? What happens to their relatives? And what about the next batch of Alzheimer’s patients?
At the moment, it’s a tough grind getting through each day sometimes.
ASHLEY HALL: Alzheimer’s patient Richard Kent ending Samantha Donovan’s report.