in our Barwon region, Victoria service are test pilots in an exciting new
journey for Home & Community Care: the introduction of virtual reality
experiences from the safety and comfort of clients’ own homes.
Offered weekly or fortnightly at the client's preference, VR glasses deliver three dimensional, 360 degree videos that simulate a wide range of immersive experiences: African safari, deep sea diving, sky-diving and many more. Our staff set up the glasses and videos and guide clients through the experience.
The new program is being trialled for 13 weeks, during which data on its useability and benefits is being complied for evaluation. Already a staple at many of Mercy Health's residential aged care homes, VR programs have been shown to:
- promote social interaction, reducing isolation and boredom in older people
- increase alertness and concentration during and after the experience
- trigger happy reminiscence
- enhance verbal communication.
Initial feedback from clients and family members has been extremely positive – you can read one of the early success stories below.
Andrew is living with advanced dementia, and has lost most of his ability to communicate. Andrew's Care Worker Andrew Smith suggested to his wife Helen that Andrew might enjoy a VR experience. Helen identified classical music as one of Andrew's lifelong interests.
"I was able to find a VR recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for Andrew to view," says Andrew Smith. "As soon as the video started, Andrew began to smile. Helen immediately took out her camera to capture the moment, stating that he had not smiled, or displayed any emotion, for a very long time. So this was wonderful outcome. Andrew kept smiling throughout the entire concert.
"It's deeply moving to see what these experiences can offer our clients."