London Heathrow Airport and the Alzheimer’s Society have committed to increasing awareness of dementia, a disease that is estimated to affect more than 47 million people worldwide.

The Dementia Friendly Communities programme aims to change global attitudes towards the disease, as part of the UK Prime Minister’s 2020 Challenge on Dementia.

Under the collaboration with the charity, Heathrow will start providing ‘dementia friends’ sessions, training and online resources to all of its 76,000 employees.

Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Our vision is to give passengers the best airport service in the world.

“Airports can be particularly stressful for passengers with dementia so we are delighted to be working with the Department of Health and Alzheimer’s Society to make sure that they get the support they need.

“We have started training our colleagues and making improvements so that we can be the world’s first dementia-friendly airport.”

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As part of the commitment, Heathrow has worked with Omniserv to implement several initiatives, such as training sessions for all frontline staff and the wider Heathrow team based on Alzheimer's Society courses.

"We have started training our colleagues and making improvements so that we can be the world’s first dementia-friendly airport."

The sessions aim to raise awareness and show employees how they can support passengers with dementia.

More than 330 members of the frontline special assistance team have been trained, and the remaining members will be trained by the end of September.

Senior Trained Additional Assistance Role (STAAR) teams were also created to take care of passengers with hidden disabilities, such as dementia, autism, deafness and blindness.

Heathrow is providing quiet lounge areas in the terminals to passengers who suffer from dementia.

In England, the disease is estimated to affect around 700,000 people, impacting the lives of more than half a million carers and costing £26bn per year.

Image: Heathrow announces its commitment to become the world’s first dementia friendly airport. Photo: courtesy of Heathrow Airport.