STAFF at a residential home that is due to open in Cirencester later this year have experienced the latest cutting edge training in dementia care.
The session was brought to Aura care home development in Stratton today to coincide with Dementia Awareness week, a national campaign aimed at giving people a greater understanding of the disease.
Keith Bunting, a social care trainer who led the session, said: “We try to replicate as close as we possibly can what people with dementia feel.
“From that we are looking to help people understand how, although they’ve got this condition and although it’s not a very nice condition, we can make things better by understanding it.
“It’s all about understanding the condition to make allowances and help people to cope with the condition as best as they can and give them a better quality of life.
The group were asked to wear specially adapted glasses that gave the feeling of suffering from macular degeneration, an eye condition that causes sufferers to lose central and peripheral vision.
They also wore insoles that gave the sensation of having pins and needles, headphones that played excruciating noises and thick gloves that limited their ability to use their hands.
They were then taken into a dark room that was lit up with red and green strobe lighting to simulate a condition common among dementia sufferers.
Keith then asked them to complete five basic tasks, such as making a bed, finding a white shirt or tidying up a desk.
Peter Lloyd, Aura director, and Maggie Robertson, village advisor, were among a dozen staff and guests who were given the latest ‘virtual tour’ that was designed to replicate how it feels to live with dementia.
Maggie said: “It was very intense and in some respects a little bit scary.
“I felt isolated and that I didn’t know where I was even though I did on a rational level.
“I didn’t know what to do, I felt totally disorientated.
“I trained as a nurse and worked in dementia so I have a good insight anyway but to actually walk in that person’s shoes made it even more profound.
“For me it really brings out more compassion, that sense of not understanding and trying to do something and maybe not doing the right thing because of the lack of understanding.
“I went extremely introverted and I felt very withdrawn and felt a total lack of confidence.
“I think that everybody across the board, anybody and everybody who is treating, caring for or managing a person with dementia needs to go through this.”
Peter said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century's biggest killer but awareness and understanding remains low and many families are facing it alone.
“We have dementia specialists in our team and are especially pleased to have the virtual reality dementia tour.
“It is medically and scientifically proven to be the closest that we can give a person with a healthy brain an experience of what dementia might be like.
“By understanding dementia from the person's point of view we can change practice, reduce issues and improve their lives.”
Stratton Court Village is a retirement centre currently under construction on the outskirts of Cirencester.
It is set to open in December with a range of state of the art facilities for residents.
For more information go to auracareliving.com/cirencester