A unique tour bus has rolled into Shropshire to provide care workers with a virtual experience of what it is like to live with dementia.

Staff at the Barclay Gardens care home in Donnington were among the first to hop on board the specially equipped bus with manager Debbie Ellis leading the way.

Kitted out with a range of sensory tools, the bus operated by Training 2 Care, has been designed to provide a virtual experience to people with a healthy brain so they can understand better how dementia impacts on thought processes, behaviours and feelings.

It enables carers to develop greater empathy for the physical and mental challenges faced by people with dementia so that simple changes to living environments can be made and adjustments to individual care plans can be implemented.

Mandy Walker, Head of Operations (Designate) at Coverage Care Services, which manages Barclay Gardens and 11 other homes across the county, said: “The Barclay Gardens team have had an extremely insightful day. The Virtual Dementia Tour has given them a completely different perspective. Spending just a few minutes undergoing the virtual simulation has allowed them to step into the shoes of someone living with dementia and understand more fully the challenges and frustrations they face.

“The training has been invaluable, and staff will be using their experiences to make any necessary adjustments to help improve day to day living for our residents with dementia.

“Over the coming months we will also be funding the roll-out of the bus to our other homes across Shropshire so that all staff receive the same level of training, and we can further develop our dementia care services.”

Investment in the Virtual Dementia Tour forms part of Coverage Care Services new three-year Dementia Strategy to improve provision across all its homes.

Ms Walker added: “As Shropshire’s largest provider of care homes, we’re excited to be leading the way with the launch of our new dementia strategy. It has been slightly delayed due to the challenges brought about by Covid-19 but having the tour bus on site is the first step towards our vision for improving dementia care services across Shropshire.

“Good training and support for our staff is an essential part of this pathway. We know that a one sized approach does not fit all and we want every person to live well with dementia.”