Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of virtual reality (VR) for experiential learning in dementia training. People have different perceptions and understanding of what it is like to live with dementia, particularly those that are new to dementia care, whether in a professional capacity, or as a friend or family member. Arguably the most powerful way in which to enhance understanding is to give people a glimpse of what living with dementia might be like.
Design/methodology/approach – The myShoes project aimed to create a resource that would augment a virtual environment and expose the user to an experience that gives them a sense of what living with dementia might be like. The resource was created using the latest VR and game development software. A sample group of students from a mixed range of health professions tested the resource providing in depth feedback on its immediate impact and ideas for further development.
Findings – Notwithstanding the limited sample on which the simulation has been tested, carefully designing the activities and constructing a learning space that allows for reflection on being placed temporarily in another person’s shoes, appears to have enabled students to think beyond ‘treatment, to considering how the person might feel and altering their approach accordingly.
Research limitations/implications – This is a pilot study. More research using VR as a training resource is planned.
Practical implications – The study will support educational training, particularly that which uses virtual reality for clinicians and carers.
Social implications – The adoption of a VR approach to training formal and informal carers has potential to enhance empathy and improve holistic care of people with dementia.
Originality/value – The myShoes project adopts a novel approach to simulating the effects of dementia for training purposes.