Glasgow becomes first UK airport to host virtual dementia tour

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Glasgow Airport will today (Wednesday, July 4) host an innovative and immersive experience designed to give staff and passengers a better understanding of some of the difficulties faced by people living with dementia.

Passengers and many of the airport’s 5000 staff will be invited to take part in the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) in a mobile unit based outside the main terminal today.

The interactive sessions are designed to give an understanding of the physical, cognitive and sensory changes a person living with dementia may experience.

During the taster sessions, staff will be asked to complete a range of daily living tasks while having their physical and sensory abilities altered.  They will feel and behave in a similar way to those living with dementia and will be able to empathise with some of the difficulties they face when they are not provided with appropriate support.

Those taking part in the Virtual Dementia Tour will learn:

How the environment can help and hinder a person living with dementia
Describe ways to make the environment conducive and promote dignity and respect for people with dementia
Identify ways to improve communication and challenge stereotypes and labelling of people living with dementia
Understand the importance of person-centred care and approaches for people who have dementia
Relate to how a person with dementia may feel in an unfamiliar environment such as an airport

The visit of the Virtual Dementia Tour comes one year after Glasgow became the first airport in the UK to host the Autism Reality Experience.

Glasgow Airport’s Terminal Compliance Manager Paul Scott said: “The Autism Reality Experience was a fantastic success last year for a number of reasons.

“Prior to its visit we would normally receive between four or five requests a month for assistance to support a passenger with autism. Following the visit, and the exposure it received, we now receive more than four or five requests every week.

“These drop-in sessions really excel in providing passengers and the wider airport staff with a much better understanding of the difficulties people with hidden disabilities face.

“It’s important our staff are aware of this and that’s where the Virtual Dementia Tour really works well – it gives them an understanding of the challenges a person living with this dreadful condition has to overcome on a daily basis.

The VDT has been developed by world-renowned geriatric specialist P.K Beville with an aim to increase empathy and insight into living with dementia.  Training2Care UK Ltd is the sole UK license holder offering structured training sessions to a wide range of organisations throughout the UK.

This includes care and nursing homes, day centres, hospitals, hospices, local authorities, universities and the retail sector.

Training2Care’s Managing Director Glenn Knight said: “An airport can often be a daunting and overwhelming place for someone with dementia.  We are pleased to be working with Glasgow Airport as the first airport in the UK to offer the Virtual Dementia Tour to its workforce and passengers.

“Staff working in various areas in the airport will gain a better insight into what dementia might be like. As a result they will be able to enable people with dementia to have a better experience at the airport with support from staff who have seen the world from their perspective.

“We see this training experience as a positive step from Glasgow Airport towards building on its existing special assistance service by also creating a dementia-inclusive environment.”

Glasgow Airport has been working with a number of different charities to improve staff training and awareness of hidden disabilities and to improve the assistance it provides. If travelling with have a hidden disability the airport can provide a lanyard which will discreetly identify a passenger to airport staff as requiring additional support.

The airport’s front line staff have been trained to recognise these lanyards and offer special assistance to passengers. To obtain one, passengers and/or their travel companions can visit the special assistance desk on the ground floor in the main check-in area.

To request assistance of any kind, passengers can call 0141 842 7700 (24 Hr) or email GLA.PRM@ocs.co.uk.
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