Watercress Line

Dementia Awareness Training

The Canadian Pacific Project has many different elements that makes it one of the most diverse projects being undertaken by a heritage railway. One of the more unlikely aspects to the project is providing Dementia Awareness Training to a number of our staff and volunteers. This short awareness session lasts approximately an hour and introduces participants to the varying types of dementia and how we can adapt our way of thinking to improve people’s quality of life.

Why is this important? In recent times, dementia has begun to feature more and more in media, indeed even Holywood has chosen it as a subject for the big screen with Julianne More winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in "Still Alice."  Although we are becoming more aware of the impact that this illness can have on not only the person living with the condition but their family too, there is still a need for dementia to be better understood, so that we can respect, communicate and interact better with those with this condition. The railway appreciates that there is a responsibility to improve the care of these people while they are visiting. The railway attracts a number of older visitors and some will be living with dementia. Providing training to a number of our staff and volunteers will help us provide a better experience for these groups. We can give them, their families and carers a place where they can come and experience the joy of steam, without the worry.

We would like to get as many staff and volunteers as possible to undertake this training to have a positive impact and improve the visitor experience. To date nine people have undertaken the training and the feedback has been extremely positive.

‘‘I found it a thoroughly worthwhile experience and feel I have gained a much better understanding of dementia which can only be of great benefit when interacting with people living with the disease. Thank you for organising these sessions which are well worth making the effort to attend.’’ Jim Russell (District Inspector, Mid Hants Railway)

‘‘Thanks for organizing the Dementia Friendly course for us all. It was only an hour long, but it left me with a much better understanding of how to assist people living with dementia. In fact, having learned these new skills in such a short time, I think the world would be a better place if everyone took this powerful little course. We would certainly be much kinder to each other.’’ Sue Dixon (Volunteer)

Volunteers and staff who would like to take part in the next dementia awareness training session, please contact Becky by email (outreach.mhr@hotmail.com) and keep an eye out on the Staff Pages.

Visitors who are planning to visit the railway with people with dementia might additionally be interested in the Railway's "Basket of Memories."  The Basket of Memories has been created by our Education Officer and is filled with items from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s such as, photos, artefacts to handle and musical snippets.  This coupled with the experience of travelling on a heritage railway provides a wonderful experience.  For more information, please click here.

To support the Canadian Pacific project, please help us and donate by clicking here.  If you’re not currently subscribed to the Canadian Pacific Project newsletter, please click here to be alerted to new updates, including details of future talks and tours.

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