Aged care residents fulfil bucket list through Virtual Reality

Samsung Electronics Australia and Uniting today announced a new program to prove you’re never too old to fulfil unlived dreams.

 

As part of a pilot program, Samsung will visit five Uniting aged care homes across NSW and the ACT to encourage residents to ‘tick off’ their bucket lists through immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences.

 

Current studies are investigating emerging applications of VR in healthcare, including for dementia patients and pain management.

Virtual reality

The partnership between Samsung and Uniting is part of a pilot program that aims to evaluate how immersive technology like virtual reality can help offer positive wellbeing, reduce isolation and support social integration for both age care and dementia patients who reside with Uniting.

 

Residents at each home will be 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. Samsung will then source virtual reality content that responds to their request for them to enjoy.

 

Five pilot sites for the VR experience program include:

  • Annesley House in Haberfield, NSW;
  • Uniting Wontama in Orange, NSW;
  • Uniting Caroona Jarman in Goonellabah, NSW;
  • Uniting Amala in Gordon, ACT; and
  • Uniting Bowden Brae Gardens in Normanhurst, NSW.

 

Martin Brown, Head of Alliances & Partner Solutions, Enterprise Mobility at Samsung Australia said “We strive to develop technology that can make a difference in the lives of Australians. This opportunity is a wonderful example of how immersive technology like VR can impact an individual’s health and wellbeing.

 

“Samsung is dedicated to finding the right partners to work with. We aim to support and facilitate their efforts by finding new ways to deliver their services, like improved healthcare offerings. We’re looking forward to undertaking this pilot with Uniting and taking their residents to places they’ve only ever dreamt about.”

 

Associate Professor, Nick Brennan, of the Uniting War Memorial Hospital, said: “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. 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.”

 

As part of this pilot, carers at Uniting will also be able use Samsung VR technology to experience a realistic day in the life of a resident with dementia. By experiencing the day-to-day life of a dementia patient, Uniting and Samsung hope to give their carers a deeper understanding of the stress, confusion and disorientation that residents experience so carers can improve their care plans and how they interact and engage with these residents.

 

Tracey Burton, Executive Director of Uniting said: “Uniting has seen how new and emerging technologies can give back independence to our residents and we’re delighted to partner with Samsung. Together we believe we can brighten many residents’ days and fulfill unlived dreams.

 

The pilot program was created following an immersive virtual reality experience provided by Samsung in January 2018. Uniting Mirinjani resident, Berenice Benson held a long-term dream to visit New York and meet a New York police officer. Her dream became a reality and since her experience, staff have reported that Berenice is generally chattier with other residents and brightens up completely when asked to talk about the event.

 

13 July 2018.