North East ambulances redesigned to make it easier for patients with disabilities and dementia to get onboard

Ambulances and patient vehicles across the North East fleet have been given a redesign to make sure all patients can get onboard.

In all, 44 ambulances and 43 Patient Transport Service vehicles used by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) have been adapted to make them more accessible to disabled people, including people with sight and hearing impairments and people living with dementia.

It is the in the country to completely redesign some of its vehicles to meet the needs of all of these patients after extensive consultation carried out ahead of the work.

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Among the changes are a new-look interior, an improved colour scheme, flooring, seat colours, better signs and handrails, with the colour contrast between the walls, floor and cabinets changed to improve access for patients.

Engagement, diversity and inclusion manager Mark Johns puts one of the new North East Ambulance Service vehicles to the test after its redesign.

The vehicles have been approved by the Alzheimer’s Society as dementia-friendly vehicles and the outside of the vehicles will display a sign to let people know.

The action was taken after some had difficulties seeing handrails and steps, while others have issues understanding signs in vehicles, with changes to the colour scheme and signage made at no cost to the trust.

People living with dementia can have issues with dark blocks of colour and shadows due to poor lighting.

All these factors have been addressed with the re-design, which has been carried out with the support of vehicle manufacturer WAS.

The NEAS vehicles have been updated so that they are more accessible.

NEAS chief executive Helen Ray said: “Being in an ambulance can be a very traumatic experience - even more so for patients who have specific needs.

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“What might appear to be small adaptations, such as changing signs and the colour of handrails, can make a big difference to disabled patients.

“These changes will mean that they can access our vehicles more easily and help people to live more independently.

“This will help to reduce the stress and anxiety they can feel.

Fleet operation manager Dave Parkin show the new interior of the North East Ambulance Service redesign vehicles.
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"I’d like to thank all the people and groups who have helped us re-design these vehicles.

“Their contribution has been invaluable.”

The Alzhemier’s Society has said with more people with dementia living in their own homes, the changes will make any journey in an ambulance as comfortable as possible for them.

Engagement, diversity and inclusion manager Mark Johns, fleet operation manager Dave Parkin and equality and diversity inclusion officer Jamie Conway with the new North East Ambulance Service redesign fleet.
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North East Ambulance Service vehicles have been marked with stickers to show they are dementia friendly.
The NEAS vehicles have been given a new look to help patients get onboard more easily.
Inside one of the newly designed NEAS vehicles.