The Prime Minister’s Air Travel Dementia Challenge Team


On Thursday 24 March the group met at Exeter Airport to talk about what needs to be done to make air passenger travel dementia friendly.


The aim of the group was part of the discussion, that people living with dementia want to make the most of whatever time they have left and their carers want to make memories that they can cherish after that person has gone and to know that they have done the best that they could for that person.


So how does this get achieved?


The group was made up of a diverse mix of people from a wide variety of disciplines and organisations.  The group is looking at the entire process of going on holiday, including booking and getting to the airport, in the airport and then getting to the resort at the other end and of course the reverse journey back when the holiday is over.


We need to consider all aspects of this journey, including the physical and mental wellbeing of the person with dementia and their carer and try to work out what any stress points of this travel journey would be and what can be done to try to alleviate them.  One of the easiest ways of dealing with someone with a dementia is to encourage them to travel with a carer and then try to ensure that all the issues are dealt with by the carer and they are given the support to manage the situation, so a key point is not to separate them!


There was also a discussion that lots of businesses are very interested in this and within big organisations this is often because that person is touched by dementia and has a personal knowledge, which results in them being very passionate about it.


For other businesses there can be a sense of distaste about trying to make money from the disability of others and so they may not want to market their services to that audience.  However that audience still wants to go on holiday and would like to know that they business they do give to organisations is wanted and valued, so they don’t have the same view of the matter.


It was also noted that worldwide, there is not really a global awareness of disability for businesses, it is very much something that they think very little if at all in their business model.  And yet in the UK there are 10million people living with disabilities, that’s 1 in 7!  And if they all go on holiday with a carer, that is a potential group of 20 million people!


This meeting took place on the same day that the House of Lords issued a report of the Equality Act, which superseded the Disability Discrimination Act.  The short version of their report is that the DDA had most impact on physical disabilities and didn’t do much for mental health issues and what they did on physical disabilities wasn’t enough.


Hopefully going forward people with dementia and other disabilities will want to travel and will be able to, with the business community supporting them to do so.  And hopefully those people will declare their disabilities and ask for the help that they need to make the effort of travel worthwhile and they will all have a fabulous holiday!  I’m proud to be part of the team that has this as their core aim!