VIDEO: Fife care home boss will skydive in bid to secure equipment for residents with dementia

A Fife care home boss will launch herself 10,000ft from a plane in a bid to secure state-of-the-art equipment for residents who suffer from dementia.

Samantha Beattie, deputy manager of Balhousie Forth View in Methil, is so determined to bring virtual reality software for OAPs suffering from the debilitating condition to her workplace that she will take part in a fundraising skydive.

The 33-year-old from Windygates hopes to raise the money required to make the equipment a permanent part of the care home.

Emotional resident Maureen Johnston is taken back to the street she grew up in Ireland as part of her VR Experience, guided by Staff member April Fleming.

Ms Beattie said she had seen the benefits of using virtual reality on dementia patients firsthand at a demonstration held at her workplace earlier this week – including on residents who struggle to communicate verbally.

She said one dementia sufferer who “hardly talks at all” had started speaking while using the virtual reality gear at Forth View.

The virtual reality technology allows users to explore corners of the world they’ve never seen, and even offers an immersive cinema experience.

Family member Jack Gardner who’s wife has dementia tries the VR experience

However the gaming laptop costs in the region of £1,200, with the headset and glasses roughly £450.

Ms Beattie added: “I think it brings back a lot of memories for them and stimulates their mind. This was the first time the residents are actually trying it out. It seems to be successful so far.

© DCTHOMSON
Deputy Manager Samantha Beattie

“We’re seeing some residents that aren’t able to communicate verbally with you (using the equipment).

“I’ve seen videos of residents being back beside the seaside and all of a sudden they’ve started talking they have started singing, and they usually don’t talk at all.

“But if we can’t raise that amount of money we’re going to then speak to head office and see if we can all chip in to buy a set for all the homes and just do a turn each. But we definitely want them in the homes.”

She said: “I’ve done three skydives and a bungee jump and I love it. I’ve paid for the skydive myself, any money raised is going to the residents.”

Manager at Balhousie Forth View Gordon Candlish said the response by residents to the virtual reality equipment had been “inspirational”.

He added: “There’s been new research in dementia done about it. We thought we’d like to try it for our residents to see what benefits it could give them.

“Most of our residents down the stairs live with severe dementia. So we thought we’d try anything to help enhance their lives really.”

The fundraising skydive will take place at Fife Airport on Saturday, October 14. To donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/samantha-beattie

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