01 Aug Residents live bucket list adventures
“Oh, that’s beautiful. It’s lovely!” says 75-year-old Don of Uniting Annesley House in Haberfield. “Look at all the trees! I’m looking around. It’s beautiful!”
Don loves to travel and has always dreamed of walking amidst the great Canadian Redwoods. Recently, he had the chance to tick this experience off his bucket list thanks to our partnership with Samsung Australia that’s empowering residents with dementia to experience new adventures in virtual reality.
“Residents are provided the opportunity to select an experience from their personal bucket list that they have yet to achieve, with particular emphasis on experiences they have longed for or did not think possible,” explained Martin Brown, head of alliances and partner solutions, enterprise mobility at Samsung Australia. “Samsung will then source virtual reality content that responds to their request for them to enjoy.”
Five Uniting aged care facilities are involved in the pilot program: Uniting Annesley House in Haberfield, Uniting Wontama in Orange, Uniting Caroona Jarman in Goonellabah, Uniting Amala in Gordon, ACT and Uniting Bowden Brae Gardens in Normanhurst.
At Uniting Annesley House, residents chose experiences including orbiting earth from space, a trip to the Grand Canyon, and a walk through a Canadian Redwood forest.
“Using virtual reality technology in this way can give dementia residents and older Australians new adventures which they could not otherwise achieve due to mobility or health problems,” said Nick Brennan, Associate Professor of the Uniting War Memorial Hospital in Waverley, NSW.
“Studies suggest that virtual reality can have a therapeutic effect and stimulate the brain. Providing new adventures for these patients can help to reduce stress and boredom and creates new ways for them to interact with their peers,” he added.
After viewing a 360 video walkthrough of his childhood home of Vancouver, resident James Hadley said, “You felt almost like you were in the whole situation. It makes you think. That was quite an experience that. It all went very quick.”
Uniting carers will also be using the SamsungGear VR headsets headsets to experience what it is like to live with dementia using content developed by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
One experience puts carers in the shoes of a woman who becomes lost in the streets surrounding her home after wandering off from family and getting disoriented. Another is from the perspective of a patient expecting someone for a cup of tea, who gets confused and frustrated when boiling the kettle.
Through the program, we hope to give carers a deeper understanding of the stress, confusion and disorientation that residents experience so they can improve care plans and their interactions with these residents.
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A version of this article originally appeared on Computer World.