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Caring for people with dementia

Parkvilla Aged Care resident Freda Opie and staff member Wendy TowanIntroducing the bookshelf mural

Assistive equipment can be used to disable, redirect, or otherwise prevent a person with dementia from doing something that may no longer be safe for them. These items are not necessarily expensive or difficult to install but can make a significant difference in creating a safe environment for residents.

With this in mind, Tatura Parkvilla Aged Care has camouflaged an exit door with a full colour, realistic mural of a bookcase. This makes it appear as a set of book shelves, rather than an exit.

Often, wandering from the safety of home to the dangers of the street is simply a matter of taking advantage of an opportunity – “There’s the door, let’s go.” Using door murals improves safety for residents and reduces the incidence of wandering outside of the home.


Waranga Aged Care Hostel resident, Annie MorganVirtual dementia experience

GV Health Residential Aged Care staff this year participated in an innovative virtual dementia training experience aiming to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

The Virtual Dementia Experience, offered by the Alzheimers Institute, took staff through a multi-sensory simulation using light, sound, colour and visual content while incorporating ‘serious games’ technology to create a virtual reality experience; aged and healthcare workers weree taken in to the world of dementia.

Participation in this outstanding training experience has led staff to think differently about their approach to caring for residents with dementia.

The experience includes doughnut shaped mood lighting, a massive ten-metre-by-two-metre wall that can have a seamless image projected across its width and breadth, an interactive touch screen and gesture-sensor technology.

Forty-five staff members from GV Health aged care facilities, including Waranga Nursing Home, Waranga Aged Care Hostel, Grutzner House and Parkvilla Aged Care in Tatura attended the training at the Alzheimers Institute in Parkville.

This was a wonderful opportunity for staff to experience what those suffering from dementia go through in their everyday life activities. This includes having a shower, finding the right room, cleaning teeth and communicating with others in a noisy environment.

Staff learned how residents with dementia experience difficulty in performing simple every day tasks due to what they see, hear and feel. For example, the sound of the running water can be very loud, a bathmat can appear to be a hole in the floor and a disposable razor could appear to be a toothbrush.

Some possible interventions discussed included calming music, reduced noise, contrasting toilet seats, signs for rooms and toiletries and removal of bathmats.

“I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to take part in the virtual dementia experience. I had shift the next day and I was able to use the experience several times, in different ways, throughout the day. It was such an incredible feeling, “ one course participant said.