A realistic train compartment “travels” past 12 nursing homes for people with dementia, where residents and family can visit the carriage and take a trip down memory lane together.
Main Travel Coupé: a railway compartment to help stimulate the senses
The Dutch National Railway (NS) and Alzheimer Nederland have developed the Main Travel Coupé especially for residents with dementia in nursing homes. The compartment consists of parts that come from real trains. Looking out the ‘window’ of the compartment, the landscape glides by, it seems as if the train is really driving on the track. “The coupé stimulates different senses: looking, feeling and hearing. Due to the recognisability of the Main Travel Coupé, we may bring back nice memories," says Gerjoke Wilmink, director of Alzheimer Nederland.
Main tour compartment in Haarlem
On 3 June 2021, Gerjoke Wilmink, together with NS president Marjan Rintel and conductor Angela Wierenga, opened the Main Travel Coupé in the Reinaldahuis of Zorggroep Reinalda in Haarlem.
Marjan Rintel explains: “As long as we cannot cure dementia, we must do everything we can to provide bright spots. With the Main Travel Coupé we take people with dementia and their loved ones on a journey, while they can stay in their familiar environment. The compartment consists of real train parts, such as train seats, the table and the well-known tilting trash can. Hopefully it will make for a nice trip.”
The images that can be viewed from the train window show the landscape of the route from Amsterdam to Alkmaar.
a great initiative by Alzheimer Nederland and NS
The compartment is located in the common area, so residents and family members can sit down to drink a cup of coffee and reminisce together or stare silently out the window.
Conductor Angela Wierenga: "Good day, I’m here today to check the tickets." She continues with a laugh:“No, I’ll drop by to have a chat and see if there’s anything missing.”
Carolien Koning, director Zorggroep Reinalda in Haarlem, thinks it is a great initiative by Alzheimer Nederland and NS: “We are proud that our residents are the first to experience the familiar experience of traveling by train in the Main Travel Coupé here at home. Moreover, the Main Travel Coupé fits in very well with our care vision based on loving care that fits the individual wishes and backgrounds of our residents with dementia.”
Offering people with dementia a moment of distraction to retrieve positive memories.
With the Main Travel Coupé, Alzheimer Nederland and NS want to let the elderly experience again what it was like to travel by train, without having to leave the house. Gerjoke Wilmink, director of Alzheimer Nederland, explains: “The coupé stimulates different senses: looking, feeling and hearing. Due to the recognisability of the Main Travel Coupé, we may bring back some nice memories.”
Collaboration Alzheimer Netherlands and NS
During work, it often happens that conductor Angela Wierenga and her colleagues come into contact with travelers with dementia. That is why, at the end of 2019, Alzheimer Nederland and NS, among others, launched the awareness campaign ‘GOOD dealing with dementia in public transport’. This campaign is aimed at both public transport employees and passengers. Together dementia-friendly developed an online training that allows public transport employees to recognise the signs of dementia and to learn to deal with them in a good way. The training is now followed as standard by all 700 Safety & Service colleagues at NS.
Dementia in the Netherlands
There are currently approximately 290,000 people with dementia in the Netherlands. This number is expected to increase to approximately 420,000 in 2030 and 520,000 in 2040. Dementia is thus developing into the leading cause of death in the Netherlands. People with dementia increasingly lose their cognitive skills. This has a major impact not only on the life of the person with dementia, but also on his or her loved ones
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