The top bosses of Shropshire’s largest care company have been getting a virtual insight into what life with dementia is really like.

Employees at Coverage Care Services undergoing dementia training on the specialist bus provided by Training 2 Care. The senior leadership team has now also undergone the vital training to improve dementia care services and support across the entire organisation.

The entire board of directors of Coverage Care Services has taken part in training on board a specialist bus, which is operated by Training 2 Care, and uses a range of sensory tools and virtual reality to help people better understand better how dementia affects thought processes, behaviours and feelings.

Chairman Ian Gordon said: “The majority of our care staff have now had the chance to visit the dementia bus over the past year, and I’m delighted that the directors and the whole senior leadership team have been able to have the same experience.

“Dementia is a growing health issue and it is vital that everyone involved in providing care has the best understanding possible of what patients are going through. As directors, we are no different.

“If we are to make and implement effective policies for our residents with dementia, we need to have all the insight and information about the condition that we can get.

“We are committed to dementia training and support from the top of the organisation down.”

The dementia bus helps carers to empathise with the physical and mental challenges faced by people with dementia and to make simple changes to make life easier and less stressful.

Around 800 employees based across Coverage Care’s homes have been able to make use of the training over the past two years. The dementia bus experience is part of the company’s comprehensive dementia strategy, which is now being implemented after delays caused by covid.

Chief executive Debbie Price said: “Dementia changes how people interact with and understand the world around them, which can be confusing, frightening and frustrating. This can have an impact on how people behave, so it is important that we do everything we can to remove the stresses dementia can bring.

“The dementia bus training has helped nearly all of our staff – and now the directors – to get just a little taste of what living with dementia is like.

“Investing in this training is invaluable in helping us to adjust what we do every day to make life better for residents and to help people live well with dementia.”

Implementation of the dementia strategy coincides with the latest programme of upgrades and refurbishments to Coverage Care’s homes, including work to make them more dementia friendly.

Significant work is taking place at Innage Grange in Bridgnorth and Barclay Gardens in Telford to convert part of the homes into dedicated dementia units. New flooring, floor decals, front doors, dementia-specific signage, new crockery and utensils are all being added, and all of the homes have already received large digital tabletops to stimulate and entertain residents.