Thinking about VR in dementia care?

By | July 18, 2016

Well, following my PhD, I will be slow-releasing (like a good fertiliser) my findings into how digital media can be configured to bring engagement to people with significant cognitive impairment. Spoiler alert, this will not be a review of existing apps, unless they really hit the mark. Rather, it will be a strategic framework which I have developed in the course of my research, bringing, I believe, some much-needed rigor to this nascent field.

In regard to VR, there is a good deal of excitement over its opportunities, and in my own city of Melbourne, MercyHealth has been trialing VR in their aged care residences. My view is that on the one hand its really exciting to see the sector’s thirst for innovation, and I fully support people to give it a go. VR-in- aged-care is a star media attraction, but what is less written about is how these devices and programs fit into an overall approach to care: who is using it, how is it being used, and what is the context?

We have seen technology come in and out of fashion: think about the excitement over the Nintendo Wii. The Internet is full of pictures of turned-on residents, madly battling against one another with games devices in their hand. Yet, a number of care workers have told me their wii-fit console sits in the cupboard and it never sees the light of day. Their stories are a reminder that technology needs to be part of a holistic approach to care, and that it, alone, is not enough.

Meanwhile, our pollies (in this case, the Honorables C Pyne and M Turnbull PM) are getting into the VR spirit. Virtual Parliament House anyone?

The Honorables Pyne and Turnbull PM

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