In mid-September, we arranged for the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus to visit the Hospice over two days. During this time, staff and volunteers were able to gain a unique insight into what dementia might be like through a 9-minute sensory experience.
The Virtual Dementia Tour was devised in the USA as a sensitivity training programme 20 years ago, by PK Beville, with the intention of providing those who work in care with the experience of life with dementia. Through this gained empathy, they could work with new sensitivity. Since then, the tour has been rolled out much more widely, and research has shown that the experience on board the bus provides the closest experience of what dementia would be like. The aim was that with this insight into living with dementia, we would be able to alter care practices and therefore improve the lives of those with dementia.
The nine-minute simulation takes place in a mobile unit, directed by the trainer. Participants enter the bus in small groups and are asked to complete several tasks whilst being exposed to various sensory experiences. Once finished, the group meets with the trainer to discuss their experience on the bus and talk about what they have gained from the training.
Common themes which arose from these discussions were the feelings of being overwhelmed by the experience and out of normal comfort zones. Although those on the bus reacted in different ways during the training, it was agreed by all that this was a very insightful, important and eye-opening experience which may change practices going forward, as well as enabling those that took part to truly begin to understand what living with dementia is actually like.
Our thanks to the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus team.
This kind of insight will help us in how we deliver our services to better support our community and is part of work we are doing to widen access to our services.