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The Association of Social Care Providers is the largest professional organisation of its kind in the Czech Republic. Established in 1991, it brings together more than 1242 organisations and provides 2758 registered services. ASCPCR represents and defends the common interests and needs of members, both governmental and non-governmental bodies. They specialise in issuing professional statements, carrying out external examinations and implementing and supporting legal regulations in social services. They also facilitate conferences and educational programmes through the Institute of Education.

We talked to Magda Dohnalová, an education manager at the Institute of Education. She is responsible for preparing educational programmes for social and care workers.

Magda told us about their implementation of the Virtual Reality of Dementia educational programme, developed by the Australian Dementia Institute. Thanks to advanced virtual reality technology, the immersive workshop enables participants to see the world through the eyes of a person living with dementia. It is designed for families and care givers of people suffering from dementia, with the aim of enhancing knowledge and understanding of what it is like to live with the disease in order to develop an accurate needs-based response. The support plans which are consequently developed help both those living with dementia, by allowing them to remain in their environment for a longer period, and the carers, who, thanks to a more effective response, avoid exhaustion. With this education ASCPCR wants to preserve the dignity and independence of very person until their final days.

Despite the challenges of the last two years, because of COVID-19 pandemic, the Association of Social Care Providers managed to organise more than 250 of these workshops and train 4,000 carers.

After such a positive response to this initiative, they have prepared another virtual reality educational programme, this time in the context of elderly people living in care homes. They promise that even more programmes will follow.

We asked Magda how ESN has helped or supported her or her organisation in learning from others and she told us:

“Meetings and exchanges of experience are always very beneficial for our work. We hope to return to face-to-face meetings so we can go back to networking and sharing ideas once again.”