PEOPLE in Newbury were able to experience what it is like to live with dementia when a virtual tour bus rolled into town recently.
The virtual dementia tour deprives users of their primary senses, to simulate the anxiety and frustration people living with dementia go through on a daily basis.
The bus is operated by Training2Care, which hopes that the experience will give people a better understanding of dementia and improve care standards.
Staff at Newbury’s Irwin Mitchell law firm experienced the dementia tour when the bus visited Newbury.
Stewart Stretton-Hill and Ben Saunders, who both campaign to raise awareness of the condition, took part in the interactive experience, organised by dementia- friendly community programme officer Sue Butterworth.
Describing the experience, the pair said being on the bus made them feel anxious and frustrated, as it deprived them of their ability to understand the world around them.
Senior associate Mr Stretton- Hill said: “Without giving too much away, the experience impaired our vision, touch and hearing, making it very difficult to understand and interact with our environment.
“Being on the bus played with our ability to understand simple instructions and the information being provided to us.
“It was a very unnerving situation and a small glimpse into the impact dementia can have on daily life.
“I was very cautious moving about the bus. I began to realise I was hunched over as I shuffled around. Most importantly, it highlighted to us the importance of understanding and patience when interacting with people who are living with dementia.”
Solicitor Ben Saunders is a Dementia Friends champion who runs sessions for colleagues, members of the public and local businesses – training more than 104 last year.
He said: “One crucial method of spreading dementia awareness in Newbury and the surrounding areas is for people to attend Dementia Friends.
“These are informal sessions run by volunteers which explain simply the ways in which dementia can change people’s lives.
“The key focus of the sessions, however, is that there is always more to the person than the dementia and that, with an early diagnosis and appropriate support from family, friends and professionals, it is possible for people to live well with dementia for many years.”
Mr Stretton-Hill and Mr Saunders also help to run the local Dementia Action Alliance, made up of local authority, NHS and other statutory bodies, and the Newbury Dementia Forum, professionals and volunteers who organise dementia-friendly activities in the local community.
If you are interested in becoming a Dementia Friend, or know somebody who might benefit, visit www.dementiafriends.org. uk and search for your nearest information session. Alternatively, contact Mr Stretton-Hill or Mr Saunders at Irwin Mitchell’s Newbury office on (01635) 571034.