Shrewsbury-based care provider Morris Care is running innovative training for staff by restricting their senses with goggles, mittens and ear plugs to help them gain a greater understanding of dementia.
The initiative, part of Morris Care’s ‘In Their Shoes’ campaign at its homes in Shropshire and Cheshire, aims to give a different perspective on dementia for September’s World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
The voluntary sessions involve staff losing part of their normal senses of touch, sight and hearing – by wearing goggles, gloves and ear plugs at intervals – to simulate what it can feel like to live with dementia when trying to perform daily tasks.
Chief Operating Officer Sue Austin said: “We believe in delivering a high quality service that respects residents’ dignity and we are always open to new ideas to ensure we deliver the best quality care.
“These training sessions will show what it’s like to struggle with simple tasks, as people with dementia experience. They are designed to further enhance our understanding and support staff learning by stepping into our residents’ shoes and experiencing as close to real life as they can possibly get.”
Morris Care has developed an approach which combines clinical good practice and professional training with creative ideas tailored to an individual’s needs, medical background and their life story.
Its Oldbury Grange home in Bridgnorth has a Namaste room, meaning ‘honouring the spirit within’. This quiet space, with soothing music and calming diffuser aromas, features sensory items for residents to touch such as small chrome patterned bowls, cushions and blankets. This space helps provide sensory stimulation in a safe and calm environment where residents can sit back and relax.
The facility is to be provided at all six of the company’s homes where social life co-ordinators have also been trained in hand and foot massages.
To help those living with dementia and to encourage continuation of key life skills, residents take part in daily activities such as pegging out the washing, setting the dining room for dinner and making cups of tea, to enable them to maintain the maximum level of independence, choice and control.
The Morris Care team also encourages family and friends to put together memory boxes for their loved ones which include a range of items like teddy bears, books, childhood games and old photographs to help residents recall and reminisce about their past.
Austin added: “We keep abreast of the latest information and research about dementia and Alzheimer’s so we can implement positive changes. We put the people we care for at the centre of all that we do so they can live to their own timescales, continue to have a sense of purpose and be part of a warm, accepting and friendly community.
“We also believe in establishing strong links with residents’ families and invite them to attend our dementia forums where they can come and talk about their experiences and learn more about our approach to care.”