Cases of dementia in care homes are on a rise, but carers are often associated with a lack of empathy towards their patients.
A caretaker is believed to be driven by a number of factors to provide empathetic care to patients with dementia – even healthcare professionals have demonstrated a lack of understanding towards such patients.
However, with the advancement of technology, caregivers can now benefit from virtual and augmented reality experiences which equip them with compassion towards the patients, reports Medical Device.
One such VR or AR experience can be taken by exTraining2Care’s mobile virtual dementia tour (VDT).
The carers undertaking dementia care training witness the VDT simulating the mental and physical challenges being faced by dementia patients. Using sensory stimulation devices and instruction, the VDT simulation bombards the senses to deliver an experience which is designed to be as close to really having dementia as possible.
Through this tour, carers have the patient’s sight, hearing and sense of touch in their hands and feet dulled or removed, before being instructed to complete basic tasks with the limitations in place.
“With this bombardment of senses the delegates demonstrate classic dementia behaviours that we would see in the community, care and nursing environments,” said Glenn Knight, managing director at Training2Care.
Knight added, “Families, teachers and care staff constantly comment that after the experience they now understand why the person acts in the way that they do.”
Carers who took this virtual tour also reported feeling anxious, lost and vulnerable.
One device through which the virtual tour can be taken is VR headsets by a Japanese company Silver Wood. They created a series of films that the viewer experiences via a VR headset intended to give them a better taste of what is it to be a dementia patient.
“Unless we can understand what a person is experiencing we cannot make simple changes to improve their lives,” Knight said.
He continued, “Dementia training mainly focuses on what is happening to the brain, so courses do not improve practice because we are not treating the disease.”
“By understanding [the lived experience of a dementia patient],” Knight says, “we can ensure that we can improve practice, environments and attitudes to really make a difference.”