During Carers Week, Georgina Gabriel, Project Coordinator Health Liaison for Forward Carers had the opportunity to experience what it might be like to live with dementia by walking onto the ‘dementia bus’. The bus tour uses simulators so that users can experience what it might be like to live with dementia, to see things from their perspective, to understand how it might feel and explain some of their behaviours. Here is Georgina’s account of what it was like having a tour of the dementia bus. She has deliberately not gone into too much detail because if you get the chance to go on the bus, to make the most of the experience it is advisable not to have any prior knowledge.
“On Thursday 10th June I attended University of Birmingham to raise awareness of Carers and the support available to them as part of Carers week 2021. Whilst at the event, we were given the opportunity to take part in the ‘Virtual Dementia Tour’ by Training 2 Care ltd. This experience was to give people the opportunity to experience what Dementia might be like.
Just as the experience was about to begin the facilitator said, ‘please take note of your feelings throughout the experience’. As I walked past the curtain into the main part of the bus, I felt very uncomfortable, alone and like nobody understood me and completely disconnected from the world around me. This was due to some of the changes that were made when entering the bus. I felt slightly frustrated and wanted some of the things that were happening to stop.
The opportunity to experience the Dementia bus was one I was looking forward to, not only to gain an understanding within my role in supporting Carers but on a personal level as my grandfather had been diagnosed with Dementia and I wondered if this experience would give me an insight into what he may have felt.
To be truthful, I wasn’t expecting to feel the things I did and found it quite emotional to gain more of an understanding into some of his behaviours and emotions. Many of my behaviours during the tour felt quite familiar to me as I had witnessed similar behaviours from my grandfather, except this time I had a slight understanding as to why they were happening. This was a great experience and I believe has raised further understanding of dementia.
To gain more insight into dementia, one of our partners Crossroads Caring for Carers offers dementia awareness sessions. Find out more here.