First Stop at Stormont for Virtual Dementia Tour Bus

22nd June 2022
Group 2: L/R: South Eastern Trust Staff: Tracey Kane (Service Improvement Lead), Ivan Ferris (Dementia Services Co-Ordinator), Nicki Patterson (Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Nursing, Primary Care & Older Peoples Services), Jonathan Patton (Chairman), Deirdre Lewis (Nurse Consultant), Claire-Marie Dickson (Asst. Director Primary Care) & Fiona Rooney (Dementia Service Lead)

The Virtual Dementia Tour Bus, hosted by the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust and facilitated by Paula Bradshaw, MLA, Robbie Butler, MLA, Liz Kimmins, MLA and Andrew Muir, MLA pulled into Stormont for the first time to allow MLAs from across Northern Ireland to  participate in a ‘Virtual Dementia’ training experience.

The training is a scientifically proven method of helping others understand what people with Dementia experience every day and provides ‘a window into their world’.  Those undertaking the training experience at first hand the physical and mental challenges facing those with Dementia, with even the most simplistic of tasks becoming arduous and deflating.

The Trust is delighted to be hosting the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus for the fourth time in four years, having now provided this training experience for over 2000 people. Participants have included frontline staff and family carers, ambulance, fire service staff, PSNI and prison services amongst many others.

At the South Eastern Trust, we recognise quality care for people living with Dementia begins with caregivers who are sensitive, patient, compassionate and kind.

Speaking at the training experience, Nicki Patterson, Deputy Chief Executive & Director of Nursing, Older People & Primary Care (South Eastern HSC Trust) said, “The feedback we have received from participants has been overwhelmingly positive.  Those that have undertaken the training have said that  it was the best they have experienced and it provided them with an insight into the experience of  Dementia.  They now feel better informed to be able to provide the high quality care for patients with Dementia when needed.”

Deirdre Lewis, Nurse Consultant, (South Eastern HSC Trust) added, “We are delighted to be able to host the Virtual Dementia Tour at Stormont.  This experiential training is continuing to have a huge impact to everyone who attends, with participants recognising that simply having Dementia ‘enabling’ environments and a supportive approach with a smile, can make a huge difference to the lives of people living with Dementia in our communities. “

There are currently over 20,000 people living with Dementia across Northern Ireland in the community and in care facilities.  As the population ages, this is expected to rise to 60,000 by 2051.

The Dementia Strategy NI (2011) acknowledged the need to work together to improve an understating of Dementia in wider society reducing stigma and isolation and to support people living with Dementia. To do this, it is vital that services are delivered by suitably qualified and competent staff across all care settings and professions