This is a great little project for a seniors’ care home in Bradford, England, up in West Yorkshire. To entertain and mentally stimulate mostly shut-in seniors, the care home designed and built a faux dining car on a train, with digital displays used as “windows” that show the passing countryside.
The Gateway Care Home spent about three months constructing its Gateway Express dining car, with its own ticket office. Residents get a first class meal as they watch the virtual countryside go by.
The set-up was inspired by day trips the care center made with residents on a regional railway. “This is something they really enjoy and look forward to every time we visit, so we decided we wanted to bring the railway here and build our own life-size carriage so they can enjoy trips all-year round,” Arthur Gallagher, part of the team that created the train, told the local Telegraph & Argus newspaper.
The Gateway Express enables seniors who have mobility issues, who would be challenged to get on a real train, a chance to revisit experiences that may have been common when they were younger.
“It’s so important for our residents, they can sit there and reminisce while having a chat and a bite to eat. It’s been like a new lease of life for some,” said Nikki Bryar, administrator at the Gateway Care Home.
I have seen this sort of thing done before, but it has been in museums or attractions, or as a novelty feature of a bar or cafe. This, by comparison, has a distinct purpose of bringing smiles and triggering fond memories.
Building the “set” would be the hard part here. The digital signage element would be quite simple, though someone would have to shoot long form video on a rail ride.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.