Getting outside and being socially active is important for us to stay happy and healthy. However, due to COVID-19 the current restrictions have meant people living in aged care homes have not been able to participate in their usual activities.
John was a resident in an aged care home who loved to go on weekly bus trips. He would look forward to these trips, waiting eagerly at the front door of the care home for the bus to arrive and take him on the excursion. Because of the current pandemic, the bus trips had to be cancelled but John still went downstairs on Monday mornings ready to go.
John started to become emotional and upset when staff told him that the trips were cancelled. A person with dementia may not understand why their normal routines need to be changed and this can cause them to become frustrated and anxious.
John had become withdrawn and not himself and would stand at the front gate looking at the cars that went by, he would sometimes bang on the gate and accuse people of trying to steal his car. Staff found it difficult to redirect him away from the gate and he would become angry and upset. There were other behaviours that were also affecting how care could be provided to John.
The aged care home contacted DSA who worked with the staff to find out more about John, what his likes and dislikes were, as well as previous life experiences. Part of John’s story was that he used to be a bus driver and his face would light up when he spoke about his previous job.
The DSA consultant suggested creating a virtual bus ride experience for him with the use of a digital projector. To enable this virtual travel, DSA purchased a projector and an iPad mini and provided a link to Golden Carers website. The website provides details on how to conduct an armchair travel experience and also has many great suggestions on travel videos to download. (https://www.goldencarers.com/armchair-travel-a-sensory-experience-for-seniors/4256/)
When DSA followed up with staff to see how John was, they expressed how much he was enjoying virtual reality bus rides, he was relaxed and engaged with the activity. Staff felt the activity had connected him to his past and improved his quality of life. Staff also found that because they could only do the activity in a communal space, other residents were able to join in and provided a meaningful experience for others.
Staff were very pleased they contacted DSA and John and other residents are really enjoying their virtual travels across the globe.
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