Shirley brings bus trip to life for Dementia Action Week

4 months ago Thu 20th May 2021

A Brighton woman living with dementia has shared her experience of travelling on buses, as Brighton & Hove renews its resolve to become an age and dementia friendly city.  

Shirley Williams, who lives in Brighton, regularly catches the bus around the city. In the short film Shirley’s Journey, she brings her bus trip to life. 

“I’m in my eighties and I’m doing everything I want to do,” said Shirley. “Even just a second to sit in this bus and do it. You’re going to where you’re going, you know what you’re doing and you’re still meeting up with people that you know. 

“It’s nice that the bus company has put something in place. The people [are] friendly. They talk to you as well on the buses, which I think is nice,” Shirley said.  

The bus company has a long-standing commitment to making buses accessible for everybody by working with individuals and local organisations like Alzheimer’s Society, Guide Dogs and Possability People. 

Its Metrobus brand has already been recognised for its work in this area. 

Crawley Borough Council Health Officer Julie Kalsi called Metrobus a ‘significant member of Crawley Dementia Alliance’, with its dementia-friendly bus service and Dementia Safe Haven in the town. She said this contributed to Crawley winning the Best Local Initiative at the Dementia Friendly Awards in 2014. 

All Brighton & Hove and Metrobus drivers are trained Dementia Friends, which gives them some insight into the challenges people living with dementia may face when they catch public transport. This may be forgetting their stop or who they are going to meet. The bus company’s travel shops are also safe havens for people who need help or who are unsure of their surroundings.  

Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Manager Director Martin Harris said: "Shirley's Journey and the lived experiences of people like her travelling on the buses, shares with us how vital it is to be a dementia friendly organisation. Being dementia friendly helps us all to help people to live well with dementia while improving accessibility for the whole community. 

“With the help and support of the Alzheimer's Society, we have learned how important it is to ensure our bus services are more age and dementia friendly, including fitting lighter floors, and by our colleagues becoming Dementia Friends. Our next-stop audio-visual announcements also provide reassurance for all of our passengers.” 

It’s Dementia Action Week this week (17 May to 23 May) and Brighton & Hove City Council has been running free 30 to 45-minute online interactive Dementia Friend webinars. There is one at 1300 on Friday 21 May. The sessions aim to help raise awareness of dementia and make local services more accessible so that people living with dementia can keep doing the things they enjoy.  

Shirley's Journey was produced by Brighton & Hove and Metrobus, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Society and Brighton & Hove City Council. Please also credit Neil Pringle Productions.  

You can watch the film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ok9HyBqo-A 

Editors’ notes 

  • 52% of people in the UK know someone who has been diagnosed with a form of dementia 
  • Dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it doesn’t just affect older people 
  • Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain and not only affects memory, but can also affect the way people think, speak, perceive things, feel and behave 
  • With the right support and treatment, people with dementia can continue to have a good quality of life and carry on doing the things that matter to them most 
  • People living with dementia can experience darker floors, like bus floors, as black holes or dark pools of water, making lighter floors a better choice
  • For more about Dementia Action Week: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-action-week and https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2021/making-brighton-hove-dementia-friendly-city