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Staff ‘experience’ debilitating effects of Dementia to help improve care

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Hundreds of our staff, including the nurse director, have been taking part in an interactive Dementia experience this week which demonstrates what it’s like to live with Dementia. 

A Virtual Dementia Tour - medically proven to be the closest a person can directly feel what dementia might be like – has been visiting our hospitals as part of Dementia Awareness Week to give staff direct insight on how best to care for dementia patients. 

By understanding dementia from the sufferer’s perspective the aim is to give our staff across a number of disciplines a more acute appreciation of the challenges faced by those affected in order to help deliver the most appropriate care. 

In addition, a new discreet symbol has been introduced which is added to patient notes and bedsides to unobtrusively alert all staff that a patient has a cognitive impairment and may require extra support. 

Nurse director Dr Margaret McGuire, who took part in the experience, said: “Around 90,000 people in Scotland live with dementia and it is the largest cause of death in the UK killing more people than cancer and heart disease. 

“In every single ward in our acute adult hospitals there will be somebody with some form of cognitive impairment. As a result, it’s really important that our staff are aware of what it’s like for a patient to have dementia and reflect on they care that they give. 

“We are one of the top health boards in the UK for the diagnosis and early treatment of dementia. However, we want to build further on our staff’s knowledge of the condition and help them better understand the pain patients can be in. 

“We now know that it scary, intimidating and confusing for people who have the disease and this leads to feelings of vulnerability. 

“It can be very painful for people with dementia to walk, hard for patients to understand what people are saying, they can experience confusion from the noises they hear and they can have difficulty seeing due to damage to their eyes. 

“We also had information stalls in all the acute hospitals with ‘Dementia Champions’ being on hand to raise awareness of the impact it can have on patients and carers which were really well attended and adds to our learning from the virtual tour.”

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