In September Stoughton Hospital hosted three dementia simulation events called Dementia Live. These events allowed participants to experience life with dementia first hand. The innovative program provided participants with a deeper understanding and greater empathy for persons with cognitive impairment and highlighted the challenges faced by those who live with dementia.
Participants were asked to wear special gloves, glasses and headphones to simulate the dementia experience. Each participant was given instructions to complete a series of tasks. The tasks were challenging or even impossible for participants with their impaired hand use, tunnel vision and a bombardment of noises from the headphones, all a realistic portrayal of dementia.
The first two events were for Stoughton Hospital employees. Heather Kleinbrook, BSN, RN-BC, CDP, Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Manager and the hospital’s Dementia Friendly Champion, was pleased with how the employees reacted to the event. “Our employees were clearly affected by the experience. Many felt the confusion dementia patients experience on a daily basis which helped them understand in real terms why you need to approach a dementia patient differently. Simple things like making eye contact and smiling can make a huge difference with our dementia patients.”
Stoughton Hospital Physical Therapist Amy Brown found immediate benefit after the experience when working with a patient with dementia. Brown shared, “because of my experience from the day before, I felt that I was better able to treat her in a slow, compassionate manner that reduced the stress on her and allowed for an effective treatment.”
The simulation also had a profound effect on the community attendees. A participant from the community event shared, “I wish I had known all of this before. I’d have been more patient.”