A “Godsend” – that is how the wife of a Middlesbrough man living with dementia has described a new quiet room at the town’s Bus Station.
The simple specially adapted room offers a sanctuary to people living with dementia, their carers or anyone else who would benefit from some time out of the hustle and bustle of the town centre.
A small opening ceremony was hosted by Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd who has made it a priority that the town works towards a better understanding of dementia and the issues around it.
As a result of the policy, last year Middlesbrough was awarded Dementia Friendly Town status by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The ribbon cutting at the Bus Station quiet room was performed by Peter Elliott, 81, from Acklam, whose wife Teresa has Alzheimer’s.
Peter was joined by Hannah Pickett, 55, from Linthorpe, who is a carer for her mum Ethel Lockwood, and also Acklam husband and wife Jimmy, 81, and Marge Harvey, 77.
Of the new facility Marge said: “It’s lovely – an absolute Godsend. The bus station is a busy place and you get people rushing about, which you can understand if they have a bus to catch, and you can get separated. Fortunately the staff are all so lovely and helpful and know what to do if they find someone who has dementia.
“Also if we miss a bus you are left standing around but now we can come in the quiet room and sit with each other until the next bus comes. It’s absolutely fantastic and such a good idea.”
Mr Elliott added: “When Teresa was diagnosed around 10 years ago you felt like there wasn’t much support or awareness of dementia. It’s come on so much in recent years, there’s the dementia cafes, businesses now do a lot to help and then things like this which is just brilliant.”
Mayor Budd said: “Becoming a Dementia Friendly Town is a great honour and reflection of our work so far but it has to be the start of what we want to achieve, not the end.
“The facts are simple, we are living longer and more and more of us are going to be touched by dementia. Because of that dementia has to be part of the thought process in everything we do.
“The quiet room at the Bus Station is a simple thing but hugely important to those who will use it and it was pleasing to hear Peter, Hannah, Marge and Jimmy speaking so positively about it.”
Brian Rowcroft, Business Engagement Lead for Cleveland Alzheimers Residential Centre Limited, said: “Middlesbrough has embraced the idea of being dementia friendly completely. We have 63 businesses and organisations having undergone training and more coming on board all the time.
“The Bus Station in particular has signed up completely to the principles of becoming a dementia friendly community with all staff doing their awareness courses and wearing the badge.
“About 35,000 people a day come through the bus station so when you think how many must be carers or living with dementia it sends a clear message.
“It’s important for people living with dementia and carers to still feel part of society and not feel excluded and we want them to feel comfortable shopping and travelling. This room is a great help in encouraging that.”