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The Way Back blog - October 2018

A look back...

Who doesn’t love a deadline? With the final submission of our business case looming, it seems a good time to reflect on what it’s been like to be a Challenge Prize Finalist. For us, one of the biggest factors of being a finalist has feeling the validation of the people we have been speaking to day after day on this journey.

For those living with dementia and their carers and loved ones it offers reassurance that the idea has some merit and is worth investigating. In Essex, it has gained local newspaper headlines which helped open doors to allow us to continue our trials and workshops locally.

On a wider basis, we have tweeted proudly about being finalists and just mentioning it in phone calls, emails and face to face meets with care managers and staff and potential investors has undoubtedly created more opportunities for us to develop the idea, at home and abroad.

For example, at a recent presentation of The Wayback to a (much loved) high street retailer, interest was piqued by the fact we were Essex Challenge Dementia finalists when they looked at the list of partners supporting the prize.

From that moment on, they undoubtedly took us more seriously and were talking about their own relationships with some of the partners such as The Alzheimer’s Society. It’s a fantastic prize and a very special opportunity for ideas like ours to take shape and find their place in the world and we’re honoured to be a part of it.

Two people using virtual reality headsets

Image: some of our tweets have been answered all over the world. These Year 1 Dementia Nursing students travelled from Seoul to see us!

So, back to that deadline, which is now even closer than when we started writing this! It’s now time for many of the conversations that we have been having over the past few months to turn into actions.

Moving from a crowdfunded idea to one which needs to be self-funding and run as a business has thrown up its own challenges. We’re lucky in that we began The Wayback with a shared will to do the right thing for those living with dementia AND for their carers and loved ones - and that will is stronger than ever.

As we seek investment, those who support us must have the same ideals and the same drive to first and foremost get the films right for the person using them.

Vespa with 'on an adventure before dementia!' sticker

Image: spotted on our recent trial visit to Clacton – seemed very apt!

Virtual Reality Reminiscence Therapy - Our new Trademark

We want to protect what we consider our point of difference; the person-centred approach that has led to such a high level of craft in our films. We’re aware that memories come from every single object, conversation and detail – not just a location or situation. Trademarking VRRT (Virtual Reality Reminiscence Therapy) and The Wayback offers people using our films reassurance that they are up to the expectations and quality they expect.

Essex Workshops and Person-Centred Development of our headsets

Let’s be honest. When we began this project our knowledge of dementia was purely personal, based on experiences with our own loved ones. But with over 800,000 people currently living with the disease in the UK, those experiences cannot be all we rely on. Every single person is different. So, from day one, we believed the only way to see if there was any point to this product was to workshop it with as many people as we could find who might benefit from it. And learn from their experiences.

Those workshops continue today. They are a vital component of what we do – and how we develop The Wayback going forward. And the reason why we found ourselves this month back out on the road – in Colchester and Essex – testing out the new design of our cardboard VR headsets, addressing a small issue some had found on previous trials. The headsets, and especially the films were very welcomed – and we’ve been invited to several more homes in the future.

 Elderly man using a virtual reality headsetElderly man using a virtual reality headset

Elderly lady using a virtual reality headset

Image: inspiring visits to The Haven in Colchester and Corner Lodge in Clacton, trialling our new design VR Headsets.

Staff at The Haven care home

Image: the staff at The Haven discuss The Wayback and its benefits for their residents.

And finally…

It’s heads down time as we prepare the business case and film for the final submission. A big thank you to all for reading. And to Ben and Nicole and the rest of the team for taking this adventure into dementia (as seen on a Clacton scooter!) with all of us. We wish everyone luck and see you all soon. All the best.

The Way Back

www.thewaybackvr.com