Care home staff try out dementia empathy suit

A CARE home is giving staff training with an “empathy suit” to enable them to experience the physical effects of living with dementia.

Managers at Brunelcare’s Deerhurst Care Home, in Soundwell, decided to buy the equipment after taking part in a dementia empathy training programme with an external company.

Care home manager Lesley Hobbs said: “The suit is amazing and so insightful.

“The dementia empathy suit has weights around the ankles and knee pads to restrict the movement and speed of the wearer.

“There are tinted goggles that affect the wearer’s peripheral vision alongside the colours around them.

“The gloves that are worn are connected to a machine that makes hands shake, meaning control of movements and coordination were thrown out.

“You can wear headphones that play a continuous tinnitus sound, and the neck brace reduces the full and able movement of the neck.

“It was fascinating, and I believe all of our carers should experience the suit as part of an induction process.”

One carer said: “Standing up was an effort, walking was challenging, simple tasks proved difficult and emotions were running high. I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, especially whilst flicking through a newspaper.

“At times I felt sad and lost whilst other people communicated around me as I couldn’t hear what they were saying.”

Dementia empathy training course have now been run for 60 employees at Deerhurst.