Residents experience dementia simulation

People pose outside van
Published: 10 June 2024
Filed under: Communications

An immersive experience simulating what it might be like to have dementia was the highlight event during Dementia Action Week 2024.

Throughout the week, Waltham Forest Council hosted a packed schedule of activities and events in collaboration with partners. The purpose behind this was to raise awareness of the services on offer to people living with dementia in the borough, in line with the national theme: ‘act on dementia’.

On Monday 13 May, residents were invited to partake in the ‘Virtual Dementia Tour’. Participants were invited into a space where, through virtual reality headsets and adapted equipment, they were able to experience some of the symptoms associated with dementia.

The experience was eye-opening for the participants, including Waltham Forest resident Dave, who said, “The virtual dementia experience was very intense and everyone should try to do it. It gives you a proper perspective of what it’s like [to live with dementia], it’s very powerful.

“I don’t think you can do that training without feeling something. How I feel now, it’s very emotional.

“I had gloves on which meant I couldn’t move my hands as easily; I had something in the soles of my shoes which made it difficult to move around; I had glasses which made the room dark and affected my vision. I had headphones on with loads of noises – it showed how dysfunctional a normal day could feel. I felt very powerless, but the whole experience was very powerful.”

Another participant, Christine, said that “it helped me walk the path for my mum”, while Lesley added, “I know what signs to look out for and how my actions can affect people”.

In addition to the virtual dementia experience, there were a series of other events, including:

Dementia-friendly art exhibition

There was a dementia-friendly curator tour of the Mingei exhibition at the William Morris Gallery. The staff, who had all previously partaken in Dementia Friends training, were praised for being very welcoming. Participants were able to handle items associated with laundry which they would have recognised from their childhood.

Movie night

Acclaimed 2023 film ‘Grey Matter’ was screened at the Dementia Hub on Thursday 16 May. The film explores the effect on a family after their grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The admission fee for the screening contained a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Delivering helpful sessions for carers

Also on Thursday 16 May, there was a seminar for carers who are supporting a loved one who is living with dementia. The session was aimed at supporting loved ones affected by dementia through understanding and interpreting behaviours of distress, and involved discussions around person centred care planning.

Belinda, a carer who attended the event, said, “This seminar was very helpful and thought provoking. It was lovely to be in an environment whereby everyone “gets it” and we were able to share our experiences about our journeys, caring for our loved ones at home with dementia.  Thank you to all involved for creating this useful event. We will definitely be attending more events like this."

Local college gets involved

Students at Leyton Sixth Form College took part in a sponsored 5km walk on Wednesday 16 May. The 22 students ended the walk at the Dementia Hub and were given a tour, having raised £160 for the Alzheimer’s Society.

1,000 Dementia Friends

In the build-up to Dementia Action Week, the Council’s Intensive Dementia Outreach Service delivered training to its 1,000th ‘Dementia Friend’. The Dementia Friends sessions started in January 2021 and have been delivered to a range of audiences, including the fire brigade, religious organisations, students and retail staff.