Staff at Progress Housing Group in Leyland were given a virtual insight into the life of a person experiencing dementia yesterday at a unique mobile training event which has toured the world.

With the help of the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) bus, who brought the tour to Progress Housing Group's offices for two full days this month, staff from the housing group put on headphones, glasses, gloves and shoe insoles which distort the senses and mimic the day-to-day challenges of a dementia sufferer.

V DT 2

Participants were then asked to complete a series of straightforward tasks, such as matching a pair of socks or finding a pair of black glasses. They are monitored to see how they behave throughout the process before completing a de-briefing session.

Amongst the staff attending were Sarah McKiernan and Mandy Helmn who work for the Group’s Progress Lifeline service, which provides personal alarms and telecare equipment, and often work with people living with dementia to help them maintain independence. Mandy, who arranged the Virtual Dementia Tour for the Progress Lifeline team as part of their commitment to training all staff as Dementia Friends, said: 

I found the experience very emotional. It gave me a real insight into what it is like for our customers living with dementia but also highlighted how our service can support them and their families to lead more comfortable lives.

Sarah added: 

The training has been so helpful and relevant to my day-to-day job. I work in the response centre at Progress Lifeline and will often speak to customers who have dementia and they can sometime be very confused and scared.

Samantha Beattie who is an Involvement Officer for the Group said: 

It has been an amazing experience. I think that everyone who works with, or knows, someone who has dementia should go through the training. I now feel more empowered and confident to support someone who is living with dementia.

The Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) was invented by PK Beville, a specialist in geriatric care from America. Beville founded not-for-profit organisation Second Wind to change the way dementia patients were cared for by helping carers understand the reasons behind their behaviour. Beville tried interactive training, role play and videos to help carers understand the reasons behind dementia sufferer’s behaviour, but nothing was changing. But by using extensive observations, interviews with people with dementia and their carers, and current scientific knowledge, she created the VDT.

Chris Cleverley from training2care who provided the training said: 

The Virtual Dementia Tour helps participants to understand what people with dementia experience every day. It gives you an opportunity to understand what we need to change to keep our loved ones at home longer, improve our practice and improve the quality of our care. Dementia is the biggest killer in the UK and we now have to change our understanding and look at the person rather than the disease.

The Virtual Dementia Tour has now been in the UK for the past three years and has been experienced by over four million people in 22 different countries around the world.  It has been adopted by care providers, NHS trusts, Councils, CQC, Universities, Colleges, Fire Service, Police, Prisons and many more.

If you or a loved one are living with dementia and want to find out how Progress Lifeline's technology enabled care services (TECS) could support you to keep your independence at home, please call the Lancashire-based team on 03333 204 999 or visit www.progresslifeline.org.uk. 

Virtual Dementia Tour 4