“When a person with dementia finds that their mental abilities are declining, they often feel vulnerable and in need of reassurance and support. The people closest to them – including their carers, friends and family – need to do everything they can to help the person to retain their sense of identity and feelings of self-worth” – Alzheimer’s Society
Mersey Care Dementia ward, Liverpool
The aim of the joint venture between 4D Immersive and Mersey Care was to evaluate the therapeutic potential of an immersive space in an acute dementia ward and to explore how these immersive experiences could be used for therapeutic intervention.
The experiences created through light, sound and projection would involve creating stimuluses to inspire conversation, the sharing of stories and increase interaction. The space would become a place to talk, listen and create a sense of ‘being normal’ and provide a person centred approach to care.
Another key area to develop was how care could be personalised and also involve the families of those on the ward. How could an immersive space be used to enhance therapies for everyone on the ward?
It was clear during each of the sessions how engaging the immersive experience became for patients and carers. There were a number of occasions recorded on how patients:
- move from an agitated state to a calm and relaxed one
- become animated and vocal
- enjoyed and laughed through the experience
- acknowledged each other and practitioners, albeit fleetingly for some
The calmness and engagement of the immersive experiences was often sustained beyond the session finishing. The ward would often be stressed and fractured before the immersive experiences but retained a new found contentment afterwards.
“After we finished the session today everyone stayed and didn’t move – as if they wanted it to carry on. Conversations kept going, and even some singing. I sat with Fred and Frank and we sang ‘You’ll never walk alone’ inspired by the debatable discussion on football teams and the difference in skill between Liverpool and Everton. We even made up actions and entertained others. I wonder if this would have happened without the session beforehand?”
Families of those on the ward also shared special moments with their loved ones; moments they may not have have experienced for a long time. The immersive space created the atmosphere in which these moments could take place. Family members could also suggest certain photos, videos and sounds that would have a positive impact – this way they became part of the person centred care process.
“At this point we began to wind up the session. The focused work had been short but we were already running over time and staff handover, which needed to be observed. However, just as we were finishing, Sal got onto her feet and began to talk about her love of dancing – her husband was with her and she asked him to dance with her. Responding to this we put on “Fly Me To the Moon” and Sal and Kenny danced together which was a gorgeous moment. Well worth the chaos it took getting there. Both Sal’s daughter and husband commented upon how good they thought the space and session was to calm Sal down and bring a purposeful activity.”