Virtual reality has been on the scene for quite some time, but Embodies Labs is pushing the envelope when it comes to using this immersive technology for training caregiving staff. As reported by Home Health Care News, the company developed a product specifically for employee training, which consists of a 30-minute simulation of fictional characters experiencing hospice, Alzheimer’s, dementia, macular degeneration, and/or high frequency hearing loss. Fifty entities are now using the simulations.
This virtual experience, one of the first of its kind, takes users from diagnosis of a terminal or debilitating condition, through managing the condition in daily life, to end of life. Contrary to what one may think, promoting empathy is not the goal; Carrie Shaw, CEO of Embodies Labs, explains that the goal is to have employees learn new dimensions of work training like decrease of fears around end of life, and increase of attentiveness for older adults and their caregivers.
The simulation was so impactful to CEO Daryl Cady of Hospice of Southern Maine that he has made it a requirement for all employees. Hospice training has proved to be the most popular simulation; other powerful exercises include a simulation where the user is put in the shoes of a patient experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s. In Durham and Greensboro, dementia care centers are finding that a simulation that takes users through a fictional character’s journey of losing vision and hearing is most useful in training caregivers to be more attentive and empathetic.
The article acknowledges critics of such immersive technology, stating that it is too early to be used in older adult care settings without knowing how centers will embrace it. But users like Ari Medoff, CEO of Arosa +LiveHome, view this technology as a critical tool that will only improve with precision. As of now, the simulation seems to be drawing empathy and attentiveness from family caregivers and senior living employees by showing them what an older adult might be going through with a specific diagnosis.
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Bryant B. “Virtual Reality Helps In-Home Caregivers Experience Dementia, Dying.” Home Health Care News. January 23, 2019. https://homehealthcarenews.com/2019/01/virtual-reality-helps-in-home-caregivers-experience-dementia-dying/. Accessed July 26, 2019.