1 JUNE 2013  Have you ever met someone whose life has been affected by dementia?

The odds are, you have.  You just may not be aware of it.  They may be family members, friends or passengers in your taxi. 

There are more than two hundred new cases of dementia diagnosed in Australia every single day.  It is a condition that affects everyone differently.  Today in 2013, it is the largest cause of disability in people over the age of sixty-five.

As the number of people living with dementia increases every day, early intervention and support enables people with dementia to remain within their communities and continue their day-to-day activities for longer than ever before.  This poses some challenges for taxi industry participants such as taxi drivers and call centre staff who may have minimal awareness about what dementia is, and what effect it may have on a person’s ability to interact, communicate or respond in certain situations.

When we meet someone with an illness or a disability that makes life a challenge for them, we tend to adapt the way we work to try and help them out.  But if it’s not obvious that a person has dementia, how are you going to know?

The Australian Government has funded Alzheimer’s Australia South Australia to develop a unique national training resource which focuses on dementia awareness for those workers in Public Transport, Fire & Emergency Services, Retail, Correctional Services and Banking who may be in day to day contact with people with dementia.  Each scenario has been uniquely tailored to the specific industry such as your industry, posing real life situations and responses.  People with dementia can be found anywhere and this resource will help to up-skill workers in these six industries whilst also providing a generic module for anyone interested in learning more.

The training resource has been created as short films and the taxi industry scenario tells the story of a taxi transporting a passenger who becomes confused about their destination location.  It shows the actions taken by the taxi driver to resolve the issue.  It is a resource that can be used in driver training and for associated taxi network/company training for those assisting taxi drivers who may encounter similar scenarios. 

Developed with national support from these industries, including the Australian Taxi Industry Association, the education resource kit will be available on line via the website www.isitdementia.com from May 2013 and via a DVD resource.  The resource kit will contain the dementia awareness training modules, and links to industry specific fact sheets and other websites such as www.alzheimers.org.au for additional information and support for workers.  This resource challenges the individual workers in these industries to stop & think ‘could this be dementia?’ and demonstrates how their responses can positively affect a person with dementia.

The training material will be available to drivers via the NSW Taxi Council’s Bronze and Silver Taxi Care Plus courses.

By providing dementia awareness resources we are not only reducing the stigma of the disease but encouraging community connections and preparing the workforce as they come into contact with people with dementia in their communities to make it a positive experience for everyone.

The official dementia education resource kit and website are available at www.isitdementia.com

Discover more at www.alzheimers.org.au