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A leading not-for-profit provider of seniors living services is set to launch a product that will enable participants to experience the physical and mental challenges of dementia.
Churches of Christ Care has secured the Australian mainland rights to the Virtual Dementia Tour™, which uses patented sensory tools and instruction based on research conducted by P.K. Beville, M.S., a specialist in geriatrics.
Millions of participants have experienced the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT™), which has been successfully deployed in 20 countries.
United States based Ms Beville said the VDT is a scientifically proven method designed to increase sensitivity toward those with dementia.
“The Tour enables caregivers to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges those with dementia face, and use the experience to provide better person-centred care,” Ms Beville said.
“During a Virtual Dementia Tour experience, participants meet with certified trainers who guide them through the tour and outfit them with patented components that alter their senses.
“Tasks and exercises that are part of the tour enable careers and professionals to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges facing those with dementia.”
According to Alzheimer’s Australia there are more than 413,106 Australians living with dementia, with approximately 244 new cases each day.
It is this growing need for appropriate dementia care and knowledge that lead to Churches of Christ Care to secure the exclusive mainland Australian rights to the immersive experience.
Director of Seniors and Supported Living Bryan Mason said that securing the VDT rights is a significant step for the organisation and the aged care sector.
“Being able to have carers, health professionals interact with their environment with a short-term dementia filter will go a long way to them better understanding what it is like to experience dementia”, Mr Mason said.
“Without actually having dementia there isn’t really any other way besides the Virtual Dementia Tour to feel what a loved one or client experiences.”
Ms Beville will travel to Australia in late June to help launch the VDT product and train Churches of Christ Care staff to become certified in providing the Tour. The Tour, which is fully mobile, will firstly be provided within Churches of Christ Care’s aged care services, and planned to be available later to other providers and carers.
Mr Mason has experienced the tour first hand and said it was an eye-opening experience.
“Having worked with clients with dementia and being in the aged care sector for many years, I thought I knew how those living with dementia felt, but I was shocked and amazed by the VDT experience,” he said.
“It puts you in a place where you don’t know what is up, what that strange noise was, or even who that person is in front of you.
“Sadly that is how those living with dementia travel through life, but the Tour allows us to deliver on our positive wellbeing model of care by placing ourselves in the shoes of another, so we can meaningfully connect with those who experience dementia in order to make a positive difference in their lives.”
The VDT is a mobile experience that can be set up by certified trainers in a short amount of time in most locations.
Information on the Virtual Dementia Tour provided by Churches of Christ Care can be found at cofc.com.au/vdt. Carers and providers can also register their interest in participating in a Virtual Dementia Tour on the website or alternatively email email@example.com.