Saturday, February 14, 2009

Caregiving with Sensitivity: Semi-Sensory Deprivation and The Virtual Dementia Tour (Video 3:04 mins.)

I have been a big fan of semi-sensory deprivation training for some time. For example, lack of eye care for nursing home residents is widespread in America and greatly impacts these residents’ quality of life. It’s only logical that if volunteer participants could wear glasses or goggles that have lenses smeared, so their vision is blurry, they can arrive at a better understanding of what patients with impaired vision experience. Simulations impairing speech, smell, taste, hearing, walking, talking, eating, touching, etc. help others really experience what patients are going through on a daily basis, and they provide great discussion. Nursing homes, hospitals, and medical schools are supportive of providing these experiences.

Because family members care for most patients with dementia, it is important that family caregivers develop more sensitivity to patients’ experiences. One example of training to improve their sensitivity is The Virtual Dementia Tour. This training developed by P.K. Beville for Second Wind Dreams “helps sensitize families to the needs of their loved ones” by helping them see, feel, and hear in ways similar to the experiences of an elderly person with dementia. Second Wind Dreams® is a national non-profit organization based in metro Atlanta.

In this video about the Virtual Dementia Tour, participants perform everyday tasks such as matching socks while wearing the following:

1) Dried corn in their shoes to simulate arthritis
2) Gloves with taped fingers to simulate declining age
3) Goggles to simulate impaired vision
4) Headphones to simulate background noise distractions that interfere with patients’ focus

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Frances, for your kind review of our Virtual Dementia Tour series. The version of the tour in your discussion is our Group Edition which has been experienced by over 10,000 professional caregivers. We have just introduced a Family Edition of the Virtual Dementia Tour that can be experienced in the privacy of the home. The Family Edition, available for families only, has been greatly reduced in price to reach as many dementia-impacted households as possible. Interested family caregivers can review the family edition on our website at Proceeds from the sale of the Virtual Dementia Tour series are used to fulfill the dreams of residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities. Thank you. Bob DeBusk, Executive Director, Second Wind Dreams.