Derry’s Greenhaw Lodge Residential Home continues to think outside the box, following this week’s special training session for staff at the Racecourse Road venue.
Lodge Manager, Ronagh McCaul and her team organised the visit of the “Dementia Bus” to secure special training for staff which proved to be a particularly worthwhile exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
As a private residential home, Greenhaw had to self fund the training and thanks to the sterling efforts of staff members, Caroline Deeney and Leigh Chada, the fundraising by staff and relatives proved to be significant.
“We a acknowledge that the onset and progression of Dementia for the sufferer is a time of great anxiety and fear and that individuals do not suffer in isolation, but are nearly always part of a family that lives the experience of the disease alongside those directly affected,” said Home Manager, Ronagh.
“As part of our ongoing programme of ‘wrap around care’ our staff, in partnership with the relatives of the home, have successfully accessed a unique opportunity for staff and relatives to experience, as closely as possible, the effects that the disease has upon the sufferer,” she added.
The high profile Virtual Reality Bus arrived at the Lodgethis week and the staff who attended the training undertook a unique example of what it is like to live with Dementia.
Greenhaw recognised the benefit of staff and relatives who are closest to the disease, experiencing at first hand the challenges of living with Dementia.
And with the training bus in constant high demand, preparations to bring it to Derry for this week’s event actually commenced as early as last January, almost one year in advance.
The intervening months have been spent in anticipation of its arrival and through a partnership approach.
Under the leadership of Caroline and Leigh, relatives of the residents and staff successfully organised fundraising events in order to host this week’s event and the range of fundraising activities, in no small way, strengthened the bond which is currently enjoyed by all associated with the Lodge.
“The Virtual Dementia Tour is medically and scientifically proven to be the closest that a person with a healthy brain can experience what Dementia might be like,” continued Ronagh.
“By understanding Dementia from the individual’s point of view, staff can change practise, reduce issues and improve the quality of their lives.”
Caroline, who lead the fundraising charge, agreed that the effort was certainly worthwhile.
“The Virtual Dementia Tour proved to be s superb experience which fashioned many emotions among staff,” she said.
“At times it was scary, intimidating, confusing with many members experiencing a feeling of vulnerability,” she added.
“That said, the Dementia Tour is, from our experience, a ‘must have’ training tool for every care professional or, indeed, family member who wishes to grasp a clear-cut understanding of Dementia by actually walking in the shoes of a person with the disease.”
Other comments from members of staff who receiving training this week were - “Frightening, yet fascinating.”
Leigh, who is heavily involved inthe training of staff at Greenhaw agreed.
“The experience presented me with a broader picture of Dementia andthe experience was enjoyable, however, it was also somewhat traumatic at times.
“The training presented us with a better understanding of how our residents feel and that’s so important.
“Yes, it was quite terrifying at times, but it was important to gain a different insight and get to fully understand the actions and reactions of people suffering with Dementia. Very much a worthwhile exercise,” she concluded.
It was also interesting to note that members of the Board of Directors who own the Greenhaw Lodge also took partin the training and, no doubt, the Virtual Reality Training Bus” will be travelling back across the Channel over the years to come.