Toolwire, a global leader in Experiential Learning* solutions, today announced that it has partnered with the Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance to deliver a series of interactive online experiences on the subject of dementia. These interactive experiences, called Toolwire Learnscapes, are designed to help employees in commercial outlets to understand how they can support members of the public who are living with dementia. This initiative was developed as a result of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, which was launched in March 2012.

In 2012, 850,000 people were found to have dementia in the UK, and the cost of caring for people with dementia is estimated to be £23 billion a year. With one in three people over the age of 65 predicted to develop dementia, the Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance wants to work towards its counties becoming more dementia friendly in order to improve the lives of those affected by this condition. To achieve this goal, the Alliance is working closely with schools, colleges, commercial partners and local authorities to improve awareness and understanding of the condition and to provide greater support for people with dementia, their carers and families. The Toolwire Learnscapes initiative is an integral part of The Alliance’s educational campaign.

Willie Cruickshank, Director at Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance, explains, “In Norfolk there are estimated to be around 13,000 people with dementia although only 34 per cent of the population has received a formal diagnosis. People with dementia and their carers often talk about stigma and social isolation. They report losing friends following their diagnosis, seeing people cross the street to avoid them, feeling lonely, and struggling to use local services. Research among the general public has shown that this often is due to the fear and misunderstanding of dementia. People living with dementia also want to remain independent for as long as possible. So in support of the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge, we have partnered with Toolwire to deliver a series of sensitive and practical interactive tools to show people how to cope with different scenarios in a effort to educate and inform. Ignorance is the biggest obstacle in shifting preconceived ideas about dementia. Creating dementia friendly communities will take time, but we believe that Toolwire Learnscapes will help bridge the enormous gap that currently exists between fear and understanding when dealing with people with dementia.”

Toolwire has produced a series of short online episodes featuring common challenging scenarios involving a person with dementia. During these episodes, participants interact with characters in a café and supermarket setting. By enabling participants to ‘learn by doing’ in a safe, controlled environment, these learning tools will better equip them to support people living with dementia in real life.

Sarah Frame, EMEA Director at Toolwire, comments, “Experiential learning tools, such as Toolwire Learnscapes, differ significantly from the role-play typically included in traditional e-learning or classroom training. These rich, authentic virtual environments can be used to replicate complex situations involving emotional topics such as sensitive health issues, domestic violence, and child protection. Enabling individuals to experience these issues first-hand allows them to more fully understand complex issues and determine a more positive outcome through their own actions. We are proud to work on this initiative to improve knowledge about a condition that touches so many people across the UK.”