Residents from Avante's care homes have recently participated in an exciting virtual reality study piloted by researchers from the University of Kent.
Avante Care & Support approached researchers from the University of Kent to look at new ways to enhance residents quality of life and experience whilst living in a care home.
Members of Avante's innovation group met with researchers to discuss what opportunities there may be with using virtual reality within a care home setting.
After their first meeting, it was decided Avante would sponsor a student to initially do a pilot study regarding the deployment of Virtual Reality at two care homes, and then roll it out to the other homes, once familiar and aware of the best ways to do so.
The aim of the pilot is to investigate the opportunities and challenges of deploying Virtual Reality, to support and help improve the well-being of people with dementia in a care home setting.
The Innovation group was formed within Avante Care & Support, to assist the organisation to further develop its use of technology across its care services, and to enhance the lives of the people Avante care for, and support.
The Virtual Reality system is in the form of a head-mounted device, which presents visual and audio information of various places in a way that gives an experience as if you were there.
Residents at Amherst Court and Court Regis care home have recently had the pleasure of visiting several destinations virtually, including Vienna and Disneyland Florida, Cathedral and the beach.
Participating residents choose all the locations for the virtual trips to ensure the visits suit their interests.
Ken from Amherst Court, had visited Disneyland Florida several times before with family and had told care staff at Amherst Court, he always hoped he would stay there again.
When Hiba Jawharieh from the University of Kent asked Ken if there was anywhere specific Ken would like to visit virtually, he was surprised to know he could visit Disneyland Florida and watch the Disney parades!
Equally, Jim at Court Regis was thrilled when he asked if he could visit a Cathedral. The virtual trip took Jim all around the historical landmark, with Jim actively pointing and sharing what he could see with Jeannette the Willows Day Care Officer.
Jeannette is learning how to use the virtual reality system to help the daycare clients she supports have a pleasant virtual experience and view what clients can see through the headset. With staff able to walk through the virtual scenery with the participant, staff can ask questions about what they can see and point to objects around them.
Jeanette Spooner, Willows Day Care Officer said, ‘I’ve found the virtual reality system to be a tremendous relaxing aid, it’s easy to use, and I’ve so far seen nothing but positive engagement and interaction with the daycare clients that have used it. In addition, the behaviours and moods of the daycare clients who have taken part appear calm and more relaxed when taking part in virtual reality. We’ve found many memories evoked when walking through different sceneries with them’.