To coincide with Dementia Action Week (20-26 May 2019), care supplies company Spearhead Healthcare has played host to The Virtual Dementia Tour, a renowned interactive training day designed to give participants a unique insight into the world as experienced by dementia patients.
Spearhead arranged for the training to take place at its head office in Kilmarnock to help staff across the company – from sales and product design to the Board of Directors – gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live with a cognitive condition and, in turn, how the care environment can help (or hinder) sufferers. 16 local care managers also attended to develop their knowledge, skills and empathy in order to further raise standards as care providers.
Bernard Lindberg, Director at Spearhead took part in the day himself, and said: “The Virtual Dementia Tour has an excellent reputation and we can see why. Through in-depth talks, discussions and sensory tools such as the simulated dementia experience within the ‘tour bus’, everyone had their eyes opened to just how confusing and overwhelming everyday tasks must feel.
“The team is now even better placed to spot where our products could be enhanced to promote residents’ independence and dignity, or where new products are needed. We certainly came away full of actionable ideas to help customers improve the lives of those they care for – and we also received great feedback from the carers themselves.”
Participants learnt what it feels like to have sensory difficulties such as impaired vision (which might lead them to confuse black flooring with holes on the floor, for instance), being unable to tune out background noise, impaired tactile sensation and reduced dexterity. Many found the immersive dementia experience very emotional, especially if family members had a cognitive condition.
Paul Wanstall, a Business Development Manager at Spearhead who often visits care homes, gives an example of something he picked up that will be immediately useful: “I now understand just how important it is to introduce myself to a resident whenever I enter their room, even if I was in the room ten minutes before. Many dementia sufferers have prosopagnosia, where they can’t recognise faces. It must be really frightening if people are coming and going without introductions.”
Hazel Beale, Health and Social Care Instructor at Abbotsford Care adds: “The dementia experience was one I will never forget. I plan to share my learnings with colleagues and also look at how we can replicate the training so that all our staff can get a similar insight into how our residents could be feeling.”
Spearhead’s range of equipment and supplies designed specifically for dementia care include adapted cutlery, coloured crockery, coloured toileting aids, clear dementia signage, and the Alerta range of coloured and wooden fall prevention mats.
Based on the success of this Virtual Dementia Tour, Spearhead hopes to run a similar event next year for care providers in the vicinity of its Staffordshire showroom.