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How VR tech's helping Dorset dementia patients share their pasts

Photo of one patient using VR tech

Published at 7:13am 28th January 2019.

Dementia's infamous for robbing the elderly of their memories, causing frustration for patients and their families.

Many carers struggle to communicate with their loved ones who have the condition.

What's more, "In the UK, dementia is the only condition in the top 10 causes of death without a treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression," according to DementiaStatistics.org

But, Dorset-based care and support provider Tricuro, who support over 6,500 people with a range of needs, are bridging the gap between carer and care-receiver.

Using VR technology at Wareham Plus, a specialist dementia service, they're able to take patients back to their pasts and improve their relationships with their carers

Mike Davis is a Day Service Officer who works regularly with patients like Jenny Jackson, who you're about to see.

He said: "When you've got a disability, particularly like dementia it closes so many doors and I don't think people's pasts should be one of those doors that's closed."

 

For the past year, technology like this has been used all over Dorset in about 10 day centre services like Wareham Plus, as well as Ridgeway Plus in Weymouth, where patients check in each day to be looked after.

Patients can be taken anywhere in the world using the Limbix headset. It's developed as a medical grade headset with no cables attached which makes it easy for patients to use.

Here's how it works: a patient or client puts on the VR headset and a member of staff can take them to different places by using a tablet. The staff member can see what's happening on the headset to prompt a conversation.

It can be used for a lot of things, but it's particularly helpful for patients with dementia like Jenny.

Taking Jenny to a beach brought back lots of memories which helps Mike and his colleagues build a stronger relationship with her.

 

 

Using Technology to bring people back together

The immediate effects are incredible, but Richard Dolan - Tricuro's Innovation and Technology Manager says it's not just about using technology for the sake of it.

"We hear this about social media, we hear that people are plugged into their devices, that we're not relating to each other in the way that we used to. What we've done here is really flipped that.

"We've used it to actually bring people back together."

Pat was able to visit her old town in Spain. But it's not just about reliving the past. The headsets also have games that are designed for pain management but also act as good conversation starters.

Just playing a simple game about swimming helped Pat to think back and talk about her husband.

Using technology in this way allows patients to get back some of their humanity by revisiting, and sharing old memories.

To hear more about how Tricuro are using technology to change lives contact Richard on richard.dolan@tricuro.co.uk

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