Video: With 1/4 inpatients now dementia sufferers Derry health chiefs are using virtual reality to improve care

The Director of Older People’s Services at the Western Trust, Dr. Bob Brown, has revealed a quarter of hospital beds are now occupied by patients with a dementia diagnosis.

He made the revelation at the launch of a study on using virtual reality to improve care for dementia patients.

Dr Kevin Moore, Ulster University; Florence Sharkey, Lead Nurse for Research and Development, Western Trust; Brendan McGrath, Assistant Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older Peoples Services Western Trust and Viv Coates, Research and Development Western Trust and UU.

Dr Kevin Moore, Ulster University; Florence Sharkey, Lead Nurse for Research and Development, Western Trust; Brendan McGrath, Assistant Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older Peoples Services Western Trust and Viv Coates, Research and Development Western Trust and UU.

Dr. Brown said that as the population continues to age the number of people living with dementia is only going to increase. In the Western Trust, 2,830 people are now estimated to be living with dementia but this is predicted to rise to 3,805 by 2021.

At the launch of the new joint Western Trust and Ulster University report on the impact of a virtual reality training programme on dementia care, Dr. Brown said: “Virtual Dementia Training VDT® is a scientifically proven method of helping staff to understand what people with dementia experience every day and is ‘a window into their world’.

“With the projected significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia it is important that as a health and social care provider we continue to empower our staff to deliver a high quality of care for people living with dementia and their families.

“Approximately one quarter of our hospital beds are occupied by patients with a dementia diagnosis and our staff play a pivotal role in recognising the needs of these patients and tailoring their care to meet such needs.

"The Western Trust is committed to providing our staff with the right knowledge and skills to do their job well and supporting them to care for people living with dementia and other conditions that affect memory.”

Florence Sharkey, Lead Nurse for Research and Development at the Western Trust, said: “This study has highlighted core components of the VDT® training programme that help and enable care staff to develop a more empathetic experience for the person living with dementia and every effort should be made to enable care staff to have these educational experiences that are considered enablers for person-centred care.”