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Local Link Staff Undertake Dementia Awareness Training in Cork

Staff at Local Link Cork recently completed a dementia awareness training programme that aims to enable bus drivers, support and administrative staff better support customers living with dementia.

The training, which took place at the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs Hotel in Tivoli, saw over 30 staff attend from Local Link services in Cork. With further training dates planned for Portlaoise, Mullingar, New Ross, Castlebar and Cavan.   

The initiative is being undertaken in support of the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign, and comes against a backdrop of an estimated 55,000 people living with the condition across Ireland. Approximately 4,000 people are newly-diagnosed with dementia each year.

Local Link provides door-to-door and scheduled bus services in towns, villages and rural areas around Ireland. Local Link services are available to everyone with a significant focus on providing accessible transport options for passengers. Being able to get out and about is a vital way to stay part of the local community and local bus travel is a lifeline for many people who don’t drive and live in remote rural areas.

“A feature which is helpful for many people is the willingness of drivers to assist passengers who may need extra support when travelling,” says Margaret Malone, Rural Transport Programme Manager, National Transport Authority. “Training Local Link bus drivers and support staff to be dementia-aware, will lead to a better understanding of the needs of passengers whilst giving the Local Link team the knowledge and confidence to give that extra bit of help.”

“We are delighted to take part in dementia awareness training for the office staff and drivers of our Local Link bus services,” says David O’Brien, Local Link Cork Manager. “Drivers are eager to support passengers on their journeys and being able to identify signs that a person may need a little help will allow them to ensure they get to their destination safely and easily.”

As a key partner to the campaign, Local Link is committed to looking at ways to improve the travel experience for people with dementia and their families into the future. Supporting people to travel increases the likelihood that they will stay active, socially-connected and engaged in community life.

“While a diagnosis of dementia does change a person’s life, people can still live well and it is important that we do all that we can to support them in being active physically, mentally and socially,” says Professor Brian Lawlor, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the Dementia: Understand Together campaign. “While the situation of every person with dementia is different, for those who are in a position to travel, perhaps with a family member or friend, it can offer huge benefits in getting out and about, maintaining social stimulation and keeping the brain active. Local Link is to be commended for undertaking this training which is about enabling staff members to better recognise those who might need a little extra help and support on their travels. By doing all that we can to make sure that their journey is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, we can ensure that people with dementia continue to play a full part in our communities and live as full and active lives as possible.”

The Dementia: Understand Together campaign, led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Genio, aims to tackle stigma and isolation and to create an Ireland that embraces and includes people with dementia and their loved ones.

The campaign website offers a comprehensive information resource on dementia, including a service-finder detailing county-by-county the dementia supports and services available. Support packs, including posters, leaflets and badges, can be ordered also.

For more information on how individuals, businesses and organisations can take action to create communities that are understanding and inclusive of people with dementia and their families, visit www.understandtogether.ie/get-involved or Freephone 1800 341 341.