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Virtual Dementia Tour®: limitations and ethics

Alessandra Merizzi (Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Ashton-under-Lyne, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 4 June 2018

Issue publication date: 15 August 2018




Dementia care is an important aspect affecting the quality of life of people living with dementia. There are many studies that test the efficacy of methods of care in order to support and even increase the quality of life of dementia patients (e.g. Gridley et al., 2016; Thyrian et al., 2017). A novel approach developed by Beville (2002) called Virtual Dementia Tour® (VDT®) also aims to improve the care of people living with dementia in their middle and late stages of deterioration. VDT® is now becoming popular internationally (see and it is sold to the general public as an evidence-based method through which people can experience what it is like to live with dementia, aiming to increase empathy and improve the delivery of care. The purpose of this paper is to explore the validity of the VDT® intervention.


The author explores the original research article upon which the VDT® was developed, highlighting critical points and reviewing these through a rigorous selection of references.


The supporting evidence base is consistently weak on closer scrutiny, and in combination with anecdotal evidence of distress related to the VDT® experience, this analysis suggests a need for caution in implementation.


Although high-quality standards of care from the national guidelines (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010) ensure that health services implement evidence-based interventions, it may be important to discern that which is empirically based from that which is not.



The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

The author thanks the author’s colleague Dr Tessa Hughes, Clinical Psychologist, who provided insight and comments that greatly improved the manuscript.


Merizzi, A. (2018), "Virtual Dementia Tour®: limitations and ethics", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 146-155.



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