Health, care and voluntary sector staff from the Teignmouth and Dawlish area have been learning through an interactive experience about the challenges faced by people living with dementia.
Staff from local organisations including Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Devon County Council and local voluntary services such as The Alice Cross Centre and Volunteering in Health, attended this virtual dementia experience on board a specially equipped mini-bus.
The team, which includes social workers, occupational therapists, district nurses, volunteers, community nurses and physiotherapists, donned blacked-out glasses, headphones and special ‘pain’ shoes for a training session to get as close as possible to the sensory view of the world that people with dementia experience every day.
Staff from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s Coastal Locality Health and Wellbeing Team (Teignmouth and Dawlish area) boarded the ‘dementia mini-bus’ at Teignmouth Rugby Club.
Inside the bus, staff engaged with a trainer to join in an interactive training session giving them an immersive experience with a taste of what it is like living with dementia.
Louise Dawson, Community Services Manager at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This experience will enable staff to better understand the challenges faced by people living with dementia, and give them a greater insight into the encounters of the carers and loved ones that support people living with this condition.
“It is hoped that the session, which includes staff from different professional backgrounds, will provide an improved perspective and enable the support offered to be more tailored and individualised with the team’s increased knowledge and awareness.”
Louise added: “We are very grateful for the support of the Teignmouth Hospital League of Friends in enabling this interactive session to go ahead and to Teignmouth Rugby Club for allowing access for the event.”
The day’s training sessions for 39 delegates was funded by Teignmouth Hospital League of Friends. The bus and its Virtual Dementia Tour is run by the ‘Experience Training’ company – a leading provider of courses to care providers nationwide.
Bob Naish, Chairman of Teignmouth Hospital League of Friends, also took part in the training. He said: “We are pleased to fund this training session because dementia is a growing issue in the country. I enjoyed the experience of sharing an activity with the staff, and was pleased with their appreciation of the chance to share new information.”
Bob also thanked the Coastal social care staff who came up with the training idea.
Lauren Schuler, Pharmacist at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was a scary experience in the bus with the spiked shoes which deliberately replicated foot pain often experienced by people with dementia and being deprived of sight and having loud sounds played through the headphones.“I can now understand how people with dementia are feeling and why they might react and behave as they do. I now have an improved insight into their daily experience which it will be invaluable in helping me to support them more effectively.”