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Virtual dementia training gives students a unique insight into the condition

12 March 2024
Health and Social Care students at EKC Broadstairs College took part in a virtual dementia awareness training course at Caremark Thanet.

On Thursday 29 February, Health and Social Care students at EKC Broadstairs College took part in a virtual dementia awareness training course at Caremark Thanet, as part of the College’s training partnership with the home care provider.

The immersive training, delivered by Caremark, gave students the opportunity to gain an insight into what it is like to live with dementia, by using virtual reality to distort their senses, such as touch, sight and hearing, and mimic the symptoms of the condition.

The students were challenged to carry out a series of tasks in a dark room whilst wearing special goggles and headphones designed to simulate the vision and hearing loss that often accompanies dementia. They also wore gloves that impaired their hand movements and sense of touch, and shoe inserts to mimic nerve damage.

Students gained an awareness of the challenges and needs of those living with dementia through first-hand experience of the feelings and sensations, such as anxiety and confusion, that those with the condition may be experiencing.

Dementia is a term for a range of diseases that affect brain function leading to the deterioration of memory, thinking and the ability to carry out daily activities. It is estimated that by 2030, there will be more than 1 million people in the UK living with dementia.

This unique learning experience fostered a deeper understanding of dementia which will help our Health and Social Care students to provide better support and care for individuals living with the condition.

The virtual reality activity was followed by a discussion, which allowed students to share their experiences and learn more about the condition.

When reflecting upon the training, Level 3 Health and Social Care student, Chloe, said: “One of the main things I have learned is to have patience when handling dementia patients. I have a newfound appreciation for those living with dementia.”

Michelle Friday, Learning and Training Manager at Caremark Thanet, Dover and Canterbury, said: “By putting themselves in the shoes of those affected by dementia, the students developed empathy and gained a better understanding of how to offer compassionate care. They recognised how dementia can impact even the simplest of tasks and how communication, in particular, can be a significant challenge.

“The students left the Caremark training suite with newfound knowledge and understanding, and it is hoped that they will utilise this knowledge to provide better care to individuals with dementia.”

EKC Broadstairs College looks forward to continuing its training partnership with Caremark Thanet which gives students access to high quality learning experiences and skills development.