London Stansted Airport has celebrated reaching 100 trained ‘Dementia Friend’ staff members following the latest in a series of special training sessions on World Alzheimer’s Day.
As part of a drive to become a dementia-friendly community, London Stansted has been training staff at all levels with help from the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friend initiative.
A Dementia Friend learns about what it’s like to live with dementia and the challenges it brings, and then turns that understanding into action.
Neil Banks, head of passenger services at London Stansted, said, “People with dementia continue to travel and fly in ever increasing numbers, either independently or with support from their loved ones or carers. Stansted Airport is currently London’s fastest growing airport serving over 27 million passengers a year and we expect to reach 35 million in the early 2020s. With someone diagnosed with dementia every three minutes in the UK, many of those passengers may face challenges passing through the airport in the future.
“We want to create a dementia-friendly community at Stansted Airport so we are able to meet the needs of those passengers living with dementia and their family or carers, and to make their journeys as smooth and comfortable as possible.”
This is just one of a number of initiatives London Stansted has in place to make the airport accessible for people with hidden disabilities, including dementia, autism, and disabilities which aren’t obviously visible to others.
London Stansted uses the Sunflower Scheme, where passengers can wear an Airport Awareness Sunflower lanyard or floret available at Stansted and other UK airports, to discreetly indicate to staff that they have a hidden disability and would like additional support. Staff are trained to recognize these identifiers and offer extra help during a passenger’s journey through the terminal.
The Special Flyer Autism Awareness Scheme enables passengers with autism and their families access to FastTrack security by wearing a special wristband, also available at the airport, which helps staff identify those who may need the offer of extra help.
Banks added, “We will continue to train more staff, across all levels and roles, to work towards London Stansted being a dementia-friendly environment. We have a commitment to both UK travelers and visitors to the UK to offer a quality service which is appropriate to a passenger’s needs, and to do this we need to have a greater understanding of the difficulties people with dementia may face and how to support them.”