Aileen Waton, Head of Dementia for Bupa Care Services UK,
21
September
2018
|
13:51
Europe/Amsterdam

The importance of first-hand experiences: how immersive dementia training is benefiting care home colleagues

Summary

Right now in the UK, there are around 850,000 people living with dementia. That’s already a huge number but, as the population ages, it’s one that’s going to steadily increase. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that it’ll reach one million by 2025, and two million by 2051.

As experts in dementia care we’re here to support everyone affected, from the individuals themselves to their families and friends around them. To do this effectively, it’s vital we stay on top of the latest research there is available about the condition.

To help extend our knowledge I was recently involved in some experiential training with my colleagues, allowing us to understand the impacts of dementia first-hand.

Using a range of physical props – such as audio headsets and glasses which mimic the effects of visual degeneration – we were able to get a feel of how dementia affects a person’s senses.

As a nurse, I’ve worked with residents at all stages of dementia, but even in my position it was a difficult experience. Through the simulation, I experienced everything from fear and confusion to frustration and isolation. At the same time though, it served as a stark reminder in how our own actions can impact those with the condition.

There are so many things that we can do to help people with dementia, including simple changes to our actions, tone of voice and body language. There are also practical steps we can consider when designing our homes, such as lighting and flooring. Individually these can provide relief, but together they provide a truly supportive environment for people with dementia.

We’ve been providing dementia care for a long time, and I’m proud to work for a company that has such an in-depth understanding, that’s delivered every day by our people. All the same, experiencing the condition first-hand only compels me further to make sure we’re getting it right for residents every time.

I’m pleased to say that, in addition to the Bupa UK Care Homes leadership team, a number of our care homes have already undertaken the training and, having experienced it myself, I’m keen to get others involved too.

There’s no doubt that the effects of dementia can be very serious, but with the right support around them it can make such a positive difference.