The bus will host presentations and awareness building workshops to educate children and to help them understand a person with dementia’s experiences, as well as preparing them to cope with the condition if a family member develops dementia.
The State Minister for Seniors and Ageing, Mick Murray MLA, was in attendance for the unveiling of the bus at Roseworth Primary School in Girrawhen, WA.
Community Vision, an organisation providing community care services to vulnerable people, raised the money to purchase the van through their fundraising campaign, A Roast to Remember.
The launch marks the second phase of their campaign, encouraging people to gather their friends, family and neighbours together for a roast dinner to raise funds and awareness for dementia.
Community Vision will be working with WA schools to de-stigmatise dementia, especially since many children see their parents and grandparents develop the condition.
Currently in Australia, there are an estimated 447,115 people living with dementia, with the number expecting to increase to 589,807 by 2028 and 1,078,129 by 2058.
Community Vision Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Michelle Jenkins, says, “With the dream of the community dementia bus now a reality, phase two of the fundraising campaign aims to raise enough money for the full fit-out of the bus, advanced technology within the bus and the two staff required to service it, with the aim of visiting a minimum of two locations each week covering metro, regional and rural WA.”
In September, the community bus will make its first visit to a remote Badjaling Aboriginal Community during Dementia Awareness Month.
The bus will also visit community centres and people’s homes throughout the State to provide wider community support to people who don’t have access to services and to trail new innovations, like Virtual Reality (VR), for those living with dementia.
The inside of the bus is fitted with sensory materials that will reduce frustration, stress and anxiety for a person with dementia.
Ms Jenkins says, “We are looking into VR art therapy programs as well as language assistance programs.
“For example, if Italian is your first language, the VR world can take you walking through the streets of Rome, conversing in your first language.
“All these VR programs are designed to help with the de-escalation of anxiety caused by the disease.”
The bus will have two staff on board to provide respite to carers and their loved ones living with dementia.
Additionally, the carers can get advice and learn new therapy techniques to help manage someone with dementia.