Family and carers get glimpse of ‘life with dementia’ in Kildare

Virtual Dementia Tour

Leinster Leader reporter

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Family and carers get glimpse of ‘life with dementia’ in Kildare

The Virtual Dementia Tour

The Virtual Dementia Tour came to Newbridge yesterday, Tuesday, June 11 as part of Carers Week 2019.

Right at Home staff, professional and family carers, and the general public from across Kildare and beyond queued to attend the event.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is the only scientifically-proven method of giving people an experience of what dementia might be like, with visitors having their vision, touch and sound distorted in a similar way to someone with dementia.

The Virtual Dementia Tour event was hosted by Right at Home at Tesco, Newbridge. The tour will now travel to two further locations across Ireland and will be hosted by Right at Home in each. Its aim is to build understanding, compassion and greater levels of care for people experiencing dementia.

Across Ireland, there are approximately 55,000 people living with dementia, and this figure is expected to double by 2036.

Speaking at the tour stop in Newbridge, David McKone, Managing Director of Right at Home Ireland, said: “The turnout today demonstrates the desire among family carers, the public, our clients’ families and our staff to gain greater understanding of dementia and its effect on those diagnosed with the disease. We were delighted to welcome all the attendees to this experience. The tour began Monday in Blanchardstown and will travel to Rathfarnham, Cork and Galway throughout the week.

“At Right at Home, we recognise the ever-evolving role of our carers and the specific skillsets required for caring for clients with dementia. As an organisation, we’re constantly seeking out and providing the best training methods and we feel the immersive nature of the Virtual Dementia Tour will further bolster our staff’s understanding of the challenges faced by people suffering the condition.”

Right at Home carer Paul Allen spoke of his experience participating in the tour.

“The Virtual Dementia Tour was really powerful,” he said.  “I’m surprised actually how intense it was – the feeling of confusion and disorientation, and the feeling of fear that comes with that. It definitely opened my eyes to what people with dementia experience every day. 

“As both a family carer and a professional carer, I understand what it means to deal with clients with different needs. Getting this training, though - being able to walk in the shoes of someone with dementia - is very different.

“To be a carer, understanding and compassion are essential, but being through the physical and emotional side of someone else’s experience, even for a short period, takes that to another level. The empathy for my clients that this experience has instilled in me will stay with me forever.”