Virtual dementia experience gives families an insight into their loved ones’ world at Surrey care home

Virtual dementia experience gives families an insight into their loved ones’ world at Surrey care home zoom

An eye-opening initiative to help families better understand the challenges faced by their loved ones living with dementia has been held at a Redhill care home.

The Virtual Dementia Experience, hosted at Acorn Court care home on The Kilns, allows family members to step into the shoes of their relatives and experience firsthand the difficulties associated with the condition.

Participants are guided through a series of exercises on a specially adapted bus that mimic the symptoms of dementia, including sensory impairments, disorientation, and discomfort.

“We both felt the experience on the bus was invaluable,” said Janet Peacock, a relative of resident Doreen Marshall, who attended with husband David.

“It certainly opened our eyes to the different ways dementia affects the senses. It’s really brought home how difficult it makes everything in life. 

“It was useful also to have an opportunity to meet up with other family members who are going through the experience.

“It was beneficial to exchange our personal journeys with our loved ones and hear what other people have gone through.”

The Virtual Dementia Experience also provides staff with an intense and important insight into the daily lives of people living with dementia which promotes better understanding of the condition and improved levels of care.

Those taking part wear glasses that limited their vision and thick gloves to make it more difficult to pick things up or hold them.

“It was an eye-opening experience. I felt very uneasy and disoriented. It has given me a better understanding of what our residents go through every day,” said Vikki Steer, Lifestyles Coordinator at Acorn Court.

The programme has been met with enthusiasm from family members and the team at the 86-bed home, which offers residential, nursing, dementia, specialist acquired brain injury and compassionate end-of-life care. 

Care home manager, Paula Deadman, outlined how positive the experience had been and hoped to bring the bus back to the home for other family members.

“I was really impressed with the overall experience and I think it is an invaluable tool for raising awareness and understanding of dementia,” she said.

“We’re proud to be a key part of our community and we are very passionate about offering support to our residents’ families and always encourage them to play an active role in their loved ones’ care.

“Even though our staff have done a great deal of training to understand dementia, this has been really beneficial to our team as well as the residents’ relatives who took part.

“It was a big success and we had so much interest that we’d love to bring it back again in the future.”