The Virtual Dementia Tour™
Evidenced based training
Creating Social Change
Nine News covering The Virtual Dementia Tour™ program facilitated by Churches of Christ in Queensland in partnership with Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).
The VDT is leading the way and raising the standard for dementia care. We are positively impacting changes in practice, attitudes and behaviours and shifting societies perceptions that people living with a diagnosis don’t just want to be cared for but CARED ABOUT and be seen for who they are and not the illness.
Through increased awareness and understanding, collectively we can tackle the stigma of dementia to reduce rates of social isolation and create inclusive environments that will empower people living with a diagnosis, their loved ones and the wider community to feel safe and supported to create social change.
Professionals treating cognitive decline use staging of the illness as a way to identify various treatment strategies. Each stage of the illness has specific criteria as it relates to cognitive decline. The VDT simulation is based on Stage Four-Five of cognitive decline, or mid-stage. The development of simulation tools that result in dementia-like behaviour in a normal person is the challenge in the VDT. Several avenues were used to create the development of sensitivity tools used in this simulation.
Clinicians trained in dementia care observed people in middle stage of dementia in the home environment and in the long-term care setting. The observations form was standard for all clinicians and tabulated frequency and duration of behaviours along with time of the day. Clinicians also tabulated types of reinforcement.
Informal interviews were held with people living with dementia from early middle stage. These interviews were conducted during support groups. Their descriptions of sounds in their head, misunderstanding of spoken word, feelings about their environment and most of all descriptions of their emotions were invaluable. Interviews with family and professional care givers helped determine how behaviors were perceived and what methods of behavior intervention were commonly used.
Scores derived for mid-stage were used to determine objective criteria for determination of cognitive decline. The tasks most commonly related to the score for mid stage cognitive decline in the MMSE gave the examiner insight into the types of things that could be simulated.
Occipital lobe – impairs vision and the ability to integrate visual stimuli in the environment. We simulated this through patented eyewear, and environment visual stimulation during the experience.
Frontal lobe – control behaviour and emotions, particularly on the right side of the brain. They also control language, usually on the left. The VDT simulates damage to these areas of the brain by placing expectations on the participant that they are unable to meet, impairing verbal, visual and executive functioning as well as integration. This is simulated through several modalities.
Temporal lobe – Damage to this area results in problems with the auditory sensation and perception, difficultly attending to auditory and visual stimuli, problems organisation and catergorising verbal materials and language comprehension problems. In an attempt to simulate the behavioural responses to this damage, the VDT altered sounds at various decibels while overlaying additional auditory commands to make it difficult to attend to and organise the verbal messages.
Parietal lobe – processes visual field, introducing multiple sounds and commands and inhibiting tactile sensations
Peak Body for Aged Care
Architecture and Design
Meet the Founder of
Second Wind Dreams®
P.K. Beville is founder of Second Wind Dreams®, an international nonprofit organization based in Roswell, Georgia. Launched in 1997, it is changing the perception of aging by fulfilling the dreams of those living in elder care communities, thereby enhancing their lives and changing society’s perception of older Americans. A geriatric specialist and national speaker, Beville began working with elders in 1983. She has designed and implemented mental health services programs, which are currently used in 800 nursing homes throughout the United States.
Beville holds a B.S. degree in Psychology from Georgetown College and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Kentucky University. Her post- graduate work was conducted for the development of the Virtual Dementia Tour® which is currently used in eldercare communities throughout the world. Over two million people across 20 countries have experienced the Virtual Dementia Tour™. In an exclusive first, Churches of Christ in Queensland has secured the National Australian VDT™ licence.
The tour supports our aim to build an environment that continually strives to understand, accept and respond positively to people with dementia. We are committed to progressing innovative care that supports people to celebrate their personal life journey. Our priority is to create an environment where we can better care for each other, make positive connections and enjoy a life in abundance. Beville took a bold step into the world of geriatrics to conquer this commitment by creating the internationally acclaimed Virtual Dementia Tour™ (VDT™). SECOND WIND DREAMS is a registered trademark of Second Wind Dreams Inc. and is used under licence.
Find out more SecondWind.org
Building and Construction
The specialised virtual Dementia Tour was a great opportunity to understand first-hand how varying forms of dementia can affect persons living with the conditions on day to day basis. Having this insight, allows us as designers and contractors to understand how the spaces and the environments we create, are impacted by components from materials and finishes to the visual aspect and sounds one will experience. Understanding this, we can now set review hold points in the design and construction process to ensure the final project achieves the goals of being a safe, comfortable and usable space.
National Peak Body
Amazing and incredibly insightful experience - thank you so much to the team!!! In particular, I really enjoyed the debrief after the experience. I learnt so much and I definitely feel that my understanding of dementia has been significantly heightened as a result of the debrief and comparing my experiences in the tour to that of someone who lives with dementia.
A Person living with younger onset dementia
To promote more awareness, alter peoples’ mind sets, and thereby reduce the stigma of dementia, we need to broaden the lens through which people with dementia are viewed. Participating in the Tour not only increases awareness, it also has the capacity to promote greater empathy and sensitivity towards people living with dementia. Ultimately, the VDT has the potential to upskill those who attend, and change the policies and practises of those who work in the area of dementia. These changes will translate into enhanced well-being and a better Quality of Life for those living with dementia.
It does not matter how long one has worked in the field or how much empathy you have, the experience of living as someone with dementia (even though only for a few minutes), brings home the challenges our clients face daily.
By doing the Virtual Dementia Tour has given me greater insight into the multitude of body systems that are impacted by Dementia and also the sense of isolation and confusion that the person suffering with Dementia must feel.
The Virtual Dementia Tour provides a unique insight into the minds of people living with dementia taking knowledge of the condition from purely academic, to deeply empathetic. University of Queensland is excited to be working alongside Churches of Christ to complete further research to revolutionise support for people living with dementia.
The Virtual Dementia Tour provided our design team with a deeper understanding of how people with dementia experience their environments and interactions with others. The tour has prompted critical thinking and discussion within our practice that translates to more effective design solutions for our aged care and seniors living clients.”
Building and Construction
I'd thoroughly recommend anyone involved in the Seniors Living sector participate in the Virtual Dementia Tour. Until you have experienced a glimpse of the day to day challenges first hand you really aren't qualified to comment.
The VDT by Churches of Christ is a very educational and beneficial course for anyone who is seeking an understanding of dementia. Crown Furniture completed the tour to improve our understanding of how our contribution to the physical environment impacts the dementia resident. We were left with mixed emotions that are very realistic and take you somewhere you would dread to be. Truly our empathy towards residents has been freshly awakened!! Thanks you Rebecca, Lyn, Kirsty, Graham, Karen, and Kaylene!!