‘Experiencing’ life with dementia at Hastings care home

Relatives try out the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus
Relatives try out the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus

Relatives of residents at a Hastings care home had the opportunity to experience what it is like to live with dementia.

Hastings Court, on The Ridge, hosted the Virtual Dementia Tour bus on Monday (August 15), which gave visitors a feel for the challenges people face.

Julia Mortimer was among a number of family members who tried out the tour bus. Her mother Celia has dementia and has been a resident at Hastings Court since January.

Julia said: “Mum has had dementia for about seven years now and while we’ve been able to support her as much as we can, we’ve only been able to imagine a little of what she’s been going through. The experience on the bus gave me the chance to try folding sheets and making a cup of tea while my having my vision impaired and being bombarded with loud noises and bright lights - it was incredibly frightening.

“I was completely overwhelmed and I’m glad that I now have an idea of what it’s like to be inside my mother’s mind.”

Hastings Court is working towards becoming the first in East Sussex to be a Butterfly home, a nationally recognised mark of excellence in dementia care.

Katie Brewster, general manager, said the bus has also been an important learning opportunity for staff. She said: “Our team here are going through a great deal of training to make sure we offer the highest standard of dementia care but this has given them a much greater understanding of how the condition affects people’s movement, behaviour and the sense of frustration they can experience.”

The bus was set up to look like a home and people got the chance to try everyday tasks with their senses impaired. Their sense of touch was restricted by specially designed gloves and insoles to echo the loss of feeling people with dementia experience as the nerve endings die in their feet and hands.

Glasses recreated the loss of peripheral vision that happens with age, and sounds in the bus were played at the louder volume many people with dementia experience.

Katie added: “We’re delighted so many relatives came along. We wanted to open it up to residents’ families as the more people understand about dementia, the better we can all support those who have it.”

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