During a VDT experience, certified trainers outfit participants with patented components that alter their senses and guide them through the tour. Components include earphones, glasses and special gloves and shoe insoles.
With approximately 244 new cases of dementia diagnosed each day according to Alzheimer’s Australia, Churches of Christ Care believes there is growing need for appropriate dementia care and knowledge, which is why it secured the Australian mainland rights to the immersive experience.
The technology has already been deployed in 20 countries; one participant in the States says he had a deep sense of confusion, while another remarked on her memory. “The thing which shocks me the most is I couldn’t remember five simple instructions,” she says.
Bryan Mason Director of Seniors and Supported Living, Churches of Christ Care believes 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,” says Mr Mason. “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.”
On experiencing the tour, Mr Mason says 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 says. “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.
The tour's creator, PK 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 initially be provided within Churches of Christ Care’s aged care services, and it is planned to be available later to other providers and carers.
More information on the Virtual Dementia Tour can be found on the Churches of Christ Care website.