How Abbeyfield uses The Virtual Dementia Tour to better empathise with our residents
At Abbeyfield we welcome older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s to live with us in our dementia friendly care homes offering care, support and understanding. Caring for another requires a special kind of person - someone who is empathetic, patient and kind. But how can a person who cares for older people be empathetic when they have never experienced old age in its fragile state?
The Virtual Dementia Tour
The Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) is medically and scientifically proven to be the closest we can give a person with a healthy brain to experience what dementia might be like. Invented 20 years ago in America by PK Beville, the VDT aims to give people the ability to understand dementia by walking in the shoes of a person with the disease.
At Abbeyfield, we ensure all of our care home staff, as well as staff in our supported housing and offices, have the opportunity to take part in the VDT and use it as part of their training. We have found that this helps us create a positive environment for those with dementia to live in and ensures staff make more informed decisions for and about our residents as we have a closer idea of the challenges they are coping with.
The tour is interactive allowing participants to have a first-hand experience of dementia. With several tasks to complete whilst being presented with noise, lights, chatter and obstacles the participant is plunged into a world which is unfamiliar and hard to control.
After taking the tour one of our care assistants said, “I now have a greater understanding and empathy for some of the everyday challenges that some of our residents face whilst living with dementia. Having walked in their shoes for a short amount of time has allowed me to communicate and care for our residents on a much more informed level.”
Written by Aaron Ingham, Dementia Projects Officer at Abbeyfield