Virtual dementia tour visits three OSJCT homes in Gloucestershire
A virtual dementia tour bus stopped off at three Gloucestershire care homes operated by The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) to help raise awareness of what it is like to live with dementia.
Trust employees, relatives of residents, stakeholders and pupils from a local secondary school all took part in the tour which aims to give an experience of what living with dementia might be like. The tour uses specialist equipment and creates a simulated environment to help explain some of the physical and sensory changes that someone with dementia may experience and how the environment can help or hinder life with dementia.
This is then followed by a debrief training session which covers the symptoms of dementia, stereotypes around the condition and looks at how to approach, communicate and engage with people with dementia to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.
Glenn Knight, Managing Director of Training 2 Care, which operates the tour, said it offered people a unique insight into what it was like to live with dementia.
He added: “The virtual dementia tour is the only medically and scientifically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain an experience of what living with dementia might be like. By understanding that we can then make simple changes to the way in which we interact and care for people with dementia to significantly improve their lives.”
The tour bus visited Paternoster House in Cirencester where 36 employees from carers to cooks received the two-hour tour and debrief session.
Trust Chief Executive Dan Hayes also took part in the session at Paternoster. He commented: “Seeing things from the perspective of a person with dementia was profound and unsettling. Once your senses are affected the most friendly or helpful gestures towards you can feel threatening. Even over a few minutes, you can feel yourself retreating into a space where you feel alone and anxious. The great positive of the experience was that it reinforces the need to continue to develop our skills and understanding in relation to dementia care.
“We must continue our ethos of caring for every person individually and learning from each individual, to ensure people maintain independence and we provide help in the right way.”
Hannah Forsyth, Home Manager at Paternoster House, said the virtual dementia tour was a powerful form of training that would help members of her team across the home to learn how they could better support and care for residents with dementia.
She said: “We can theorise about dementia and do other types of training but with this you get to actually experience what it’s like, or as close as possible, and that’s incredibly powerful. It really makes you think and reflect as a practitioner about how we can better and more compassionately communicate and engage with the people we’re caring for to really improve their lives.”
A group of eight year ten pupils who are studying a BTech in Health and Social Care at Henley Bank High School attended a session tailored for their age at the Trust’s Millbrook Lodge in Brockworth. Sessions were also run at Grace Care Centre in Thornbury for care home employees, volunteers and family members, together with colleagues from Gloucestershire County Council and two dementia researchers from the University of Bristol.