Empathy doesn’t come naturally unless there is a basic understanding of what another person’s life is like. In fact, it’s easiest to have empathy for people our own age who are experiencing many of the same life challenges we are. In fact, we innately understand challenges they face and can come up with ways to support them. But what happens when you are unable to find a connection with another person who needs your help? Worse yet, what if that person is unable to articulate their experience? It’s almost impossible to be empathetic with limited knowledge.
The Virtual Dementia Tour® was created to help gain that understanding by giving people the opportunity to experience what dementia might be like for a short period of time.
Staff in Peninsula Care Homes in Devon England recently took part in the Virtual Dementia Tour and wrote a touching poem to share their experience of the tour and show what empathy for people living with dementia looks like.
Walking the Dementia path.
You are you and I am I,
Today we walked in your dementia shoes,
The experience made us sad,
The emotions you feel every day,
We have never been able to fully understand,
As we entered the room, time stood still,
This is how you must feel,
The darkness overcame us all,
It was hard not to fall,
Our senses had disappeared,
Then the unknown had appeared.
We had no feeling in our hands and feet,
Our eyes were covered with what seemed like a black sheet,
You live each day like this,
Staring sadly into the abyss.
During the tour we took comfort in knowing we can return,
But this saddens us you can’t, but we’ll help you and learn,
We felt the daily obstacles that get in your path,
We will take these away with a smile with all the staff,
The voices that you hear are loud and unclear,
We can now understand to try and ease that fear,
The sounds you hear must make you disorientated,
But we can promise- our reassurances won’t be belated,
Now we can walk beside you, we’ve been in your shoes,
We will live in the moment with you, we have nothing to lose,
We’ll make the moments as special as you are,
Even if they are few and far.
Now we’ve walked the dementia tour,
We can help to comfort you more,
The darkness that surrounds you,
We felt that too,
We’ll help to bring the light,
We will make it shine, make it bright.
By Lyn, Bekki, Rhianne