Rachel Carse (Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator)
The Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator introduced the item and went through the attached slides. The Panel heard that the Alliance’s role was to support Croydon in being dementia friendly, an aspect of which was to examine all areas of public transport in the borough.
13.1% of Croydon residents were over 65, with an estimated number of 3,611 living with dementia, and only 2,322 having been diagnosed (as of 2017). Around a third of dementia sufferers lived in the community, with many of these in the south of the borough, but a not insignificant number living in the north.
Croydon had been awarded the Dementia Friendly certification for 2018-19, but additional evidence would need to be submitted later in 2019 to keep this.
The Alliance was made up of a number of large and small organisations who were working to make themselves dementia friendly, and together to make Croydon dementia friendly. The Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator explained the Herbert Protocol which had been developed by the police, which involved carers submitting a form with a photo of individuals when they planned to go on a solo excursion. This meant that if the individual went missing whilst out, information about them could quickly be disseminated throughout the police network. It had been named after George Herbert who had been a World War II veteran, who regularly left his care home to travel to Normandy. The Panel heard that lost individuals with dementia could be difficult to spot, as they often travelled with purpose.
The Alliance worked through three main strands, and these were ‘People, Place and Process’. ‘People’ involved educating people on dementia and raising awareness and understanding to create ‘Dementia Friends’. Training could be delivered to drivers, revenue and station staff for free.
‘Place’ involved working with businesses and public spaces to make these more accessible to people with dementia. Examples given of this were a Sainsbury’s store where ‘Way Out’ signs had been installed in toilets to help stop people becoming confused, and dementia friendly screenings of films were regularly shown at the David Lean Cinema.
‘Process’ involved supporting people through implementing procedures to assist people with dementia. Some shops had designated workers who had been given training to support people with dementia, and banks had been given training to help identify possible instances of fraud and withdrawals under duress. Having both visual and audible announcements about the next stop or station were valuable to those using public transport as they could be reassuring. The Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator informed the Panel of plans to provide training to First Group’s revenue team.
The Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator explained that public transport was a lifeline for those who could not, or chose not to, drive; it allowed for people to keep in touch with family and friends, and to access healthcare easily. Access to healthcare was especially important, as journeys to unfamiliar facilities could be stressful, and lack of accessibility could cause people to miss appointments or arrive in a state of distress. This could influence treatment decisions and assessments.
The Chair thanked the Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator, and stressed that the role of public transport in making Croydon accessible to those with dementia could not be emphasised enough.
The Chair queried whether the operators present provided training, or whether there would be capacity to provide some in the future. The London Trams representative informed the Panel that they had done training around ‘Dementia Friends’ but that more could be done, and invited the Dementia Action Alliance to deliver additional training for their staff.
The Tram Operations Ltd representative stated that their revenue teams often encountered service users with dementia, and had delivered some training on invisible disabilities, with plans to provide additional training on dementia.
The TfL representative specified that there was a training module on dementia for staff, and there had been attempts to deliver additional training in bus stations, however, this had been difficult due to staff rotas. There had been consideration of training supervisors who could then disseminate the information to their staff, and the TfL representative agreed to discuss this with the Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator after the meeting.
The East Surrey Transport Committee representative queried what passengers should do if they encountered someone with dementia, and learned that remaining calm, being kind and chatting to people went a long way; if the passenger felt it was appropriate they could call the police.
A resident asked if any collaborative work had been done with any other mental health charities to increase the reach of the Alliance. The Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator agreed this was a good point as there were many commonalities between dementia and other mental health awareness training programmes. Mencap were in the alliance, and Mind had also been involved.
Action Point – For the Dementia Action Alliance and Social Inclusion Co-ordinator to report back on the outcome of discussions with TfL and London Trams.