London Gatwick Airport and its special assistance provider OCS have been recognized for their efforts in supporting passengers with dementia, following the introduction of a hidden disability lanyard earlier this year.
Gatwick and OCS were jointly presented with the Dementia Innovation Award at a ceremony hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society and attended by UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The award recognizes ‘forward thinking in developing a piece of research, new product, project or service to support people affected by dementia.’
Since its introduction in May 2016, more than 3,000 passengers have requested a lanyard when traveling through the airport. The lanyard provides staff with a discreet signal that passengers, their families or carer, may require additional assistance when traveling through the airport. It is entirely voluntary and can be collected free of charge from any of Gatwick’s assistance desks.
The launch of the lanyard coincided with a range of innovative, airport-wide measures aimed at establishing Gatwick as an internationally recognized dementia-friendly airport, including training 50 airport employees as ‘Dementia Friends Champions’; holding multiple Dementia Friends information sessions for existing employees; and holding Dementia Friends information sessions as part of standard induction training for new employees. As a result, every member of Gatwick’s Assistance Team has received Dementia Friends training.
Nikki Barton, head of terminals and passenger services at Gatwick Airport, said, “We are honored to receive this award which recognizes the passionate commitment of our staff toward providing passengers with hidden disabilities like dementia the very best customer service and support when traveling through the airport.
“By teaming up with Alzheimer’s Society and OCS we’ve made huge strides in understanding the challenges passengers with dementia may encounter and how we can better support them, their family and carers.
“I’m incredibly proud of our frontline staff for the way they have embraced initiatives like the hidden disability lanyard so we can continue to provide all our passengers with the assistance and understanding they deserve.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive, Alzheimer’s Society, said, “Dementia is the biggest health and social care issue facing our society and there’s no question that it has a profound and devastating impact for many – but the actions of Gatwick and the OCS Group and others like them are helping to raise better awareness, break down stigma and make our communities more dementia-friendly.
“What makes our winners so remarkable is the way they use their imagination, energy and enthusiasm to inspire others. Gatwick and the OCS Group have gone that extra mile to make a bigger difference in their community for people with dementia and they will inspire others to follow their example in all walks of life.”
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “The Dementia Friendly Communities program has led to inspiring action, raising awareness of this condition and supporting people to live well. Dementia is a priority for this government and I am inspired by the work of the individuals here today who are leading the way in making their own communities dementia friendly.”