GCU staff take part in interactive dementia tour

31 August 2015

The staff members are now trained to deliver the tour to others and plan to roll it out to fellow GCU staff and students in the future.

The staff members are now trained to deliver the tour to others and plan to roll it out to fellow GCU staff and students in the future.

Staff members from Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) School of Health and Life Sciences have been led through an interactive tour that simulates the day-to-day experiences of people with dementia with the aim of building a greater understanding of the condition.

Dementia affects about 800,000 people in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than one million by 2025. It is a terminal condition, with symptoms including memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.

It can be difficult for carers and relatives of people with dementia to understand what they are going through, however, the Virtual Dementia Tour helps them to identify with and understand the behaviours and needs of those in their care.

Last week, GCU nursing staff were led through the Virtual Dementia Tour by its pioneer, Atlanta-based geriatrics specialist P.K. Beville.

They were asked to complete simple tasks while wearing special shoes, gloves, glasses and headphones to mimic the symptoms of cognitive and physical degeneration experienced by people with dementia: loss of vision, loss of sensory nerves and fine motor skills, onset of arthritis and neuropathy (pins and needles in the hands and feet), and a constant aural ‘chatter’ that causes loss of auditory interpretation and confusion.

The eight staff members are now trained to deliver the tour to others and plan to roll it out to fellow GCU staff and students in the future.

Val Howatson, GCU nursing lecturer, said: “The Virtual Dementia Tour is the only medically and scientifically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain an experience of what dementia might be like and gives carers and relatives an invaluable insight into the disease.”

Invented more than 15 years ago, more than one million people in 17 countries have experienced the Virtual Dementia Tour.