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Sunday, 25 October 2020

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Alzheimer Scotland launches UK’s first virtual dementia resource centre

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ALZHEIMER Scotland, the country’s national dementia charity, has announced the launch of the pioneering Alzheimer Scotland Virtual Resource Centre which will provide a digital lifeline for carers and people living with dementia.

The first of its kind in the UK, the Virtual Resource Centre will bring all of the charity’s resources and expertise online, making them permanently accessible to people living with dementia, as well as carers and relatives.

The Virtual Resource Centre is currently under construction, and Alzheimer Scotland is calling on the public to back the rest of the build by supporting the Virtual Brick Appeal. The appeal calls for people to buy a virtual brick, and help raise the vital funds required for the completion of the digital centre, one brick at a time.

A digital alternative to the charity’s current bricks and mortar Dementia Resource Centres, the online hub will provide a vital means of support to those who may be unable to travel, either due to distance, mobility or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst this project has been on the radar for many months, Alzheimer Scotland deliberately accelerated the development of the Virtual Resource Centre due to coronavirus, as a means to provide people living with dementia easy access to the help they need.

Alzheimer Scotland Chief Executive, Henry Simmons, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had an extreme impact on people living with dementia, as well as carers and loved ones, and we have reacted quickly to find new ways of supporting people. It is clear that there is urgent need and demand for a digital resource which can be accessed quickly and easily now and in the future.

“Our Virtual Resource Centre is a pivotal step forward in making our support accessible to a broader section of the population while simultaneously future-proofing our services, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of delivering essential support – regardless of challenges in our physical environment.

“Now more than ever, it’s important that no one faces dementia alone. By supporting our Virtual Brick Appeal, you will be contributing to the development and eventual completion of our Virtual Resource Centre – an essential online tool which will help us to provide the best care possible.”

A pioneering step in dementia care and support, the Virtual Resource Centre has been created with a dementia-friendly design, taking into account adjustable lighting, carpeting and furniture and is modelled on the current interior of the physical Dementia Resource Centres.

The entire digital experience allows people to ‘walk through’ a Dementia Resource Centre, with visitors welcomed by an avatar guide on arrival in the reception area. This virtual host, who is multi-lingual, is able to respond to queries and direct people to the appropriate support.

As well as live chat function where people living with dementia and carers can ask questions and connect with others, Alzheimer Scotland plans to create a number of rooms to bring the community together, with families able to join interactive sessions.

The wellbeing room will offer exercise classes, including yoga and meditation, as well as live chats with Allied Health Professionals and Dementia Link Workers. Group and individual sessions are available where those ‘visiting’ the Centre can enjoy games, storytelling and puzzles. There will also be a virtual garden with links to the charity’s outdoor activities and projects.

A separate zone, especially for carers, will also be available, hosting groups like carer support and there will also be a dedicated space for volunteers, with information, support and experiential training.

The entire resource will be available for people to visit from the comfort of their home, regardless of the time of day or wherever they are in the world – making sure that nobody faces dementia alone.

To support the Virtual Brick Appeal, visit www.alzscot.org/virtualbrick. Supporters can donate £10, £25 or £50  with all funds raised will go directly to the development of the Alzheimer Scotland Virtual Resource Centre.

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