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Dementia champions at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) have undertaken specialist dementia simulation training to support patients who are living with dementia. The training provided the experience of what living with dementia might be like and how simple changes to clinical practice and the hospital environment can improve the hospital experience for those living with this illness.

The training is proven to be the closest recreation of what living with dementia might be like. By using specially developed equipment, structured tasks and followed by a debrief, participants are able to demonstrate classic dementia behaviours and walk in the shoes of people with dementia. The simulation includes wearing headphones that make it harder to understand what is being said, glasses that make vision less clear and gloves that makes fingers clumsy.

Dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK, with more than 850,000 people in the UK currently living with the disease. It is important that hospital staff are trained to provide care in a way that reduces anxiety and distress that can be experienced by people with the condition in an unfamiliar environment.

Rudi Sison, Dementia Nurse Facilitator, commented: “The simulation training provided our dementia champions with the experience of what living with dementia might be like and gave them an understanding of why patients with dementia might behave or respond in a certain way.

“It helped staff understand what they can do to help dementia patients admitted to our hospitals to maintain their independence by adapting behaviours and ways of communicating, and reduce the stress a hospital visit can cause.”

Vicky Feria, Junior Sister at MTW who recently undertook the training course added: “It was a humbling experience and I found the training really helped me understand dementia behaviour.

“I am now really aware of the small things we can all do to help improve the care we provide to our patients suffering with dementia to reduce their fear and anxiety.”

The training was provided by Training 2 Care Ltd as part of the Virtual Dementia Tour – the Virtual Dementia Tour is undertaken by over 200,000 people per year in the UK. Three members of staff at MTW will now be trained to deliver the dementia simulation training across the Trust.

Photograph features (left to right) Vicky Feria, Junior Sister at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Amy Richards, Lead Cashier/Receptionist at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.