Dementia virtual reality tour gives Wolverhampton residents chance to discover how disease feels

The unsettling and scary sensation of living with dementia was replicated by virtual reality in Wolverhampton.

Vikki Johnson from Cera Care and Eileen Bennett from AC
Vikki Johnson from Cera Care and Eileen Bennett from AC

Public sector staff, healthcare workers, faith representatives and system leaders took part in the Virtual Reality Dementia Training Tour at the Guru Nanak Temple, Wednesfield.

The event was hosted by the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group and delivered by Caremark, aimed to provide people with the opportunity to experience dementia symptoms by distorting the participants’ senses, such as their touch, sight and vision.

Wolverhampton Council’s director of adult social care services, Becky Wilkinson, said: "Dementia affects many people in our city, from those who have it themselves, to those who care for them and their loved ones – but in most cases, it is hard to understand what the person with dementia is actually experiencing.

"This training was an eye-opening way of giving those who work to support those with dementia a first-hand experience of what they may be going through, including how dementia can affect their senses and change their behaviour.

"Those taking part in the training left with a different perspective and a better understanding of what it is like to live with dementia, which they can now take into their work and further improve the support they can offer."

The VR activity was then followed by a debrief, which allowed the participants to share their experiences, as well as learn more about the sensations they felt and how they would affect those with living with dementia on a daily basis.

The debilitating illness estimated to affect more than 3,000 people in the city, with that number expected to rise by over 50 per cent by 2035. Dementia does not just have a devastating effect on the individual, but also their families and friends.

The Alzheimer's Society has granted Wolverhampton Dementia Friendly Community Status recognising the work members of the Wolverhampton Dementia Action Alliance are doing to improve services for people living with dementia, and their families and carers.

To find out more about support on offer in Wolverhampton for those living with dementia visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/dementia or phone Dementia Connect phoneline on 0333 150 3456.

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