VR tech role in dining project for dementia

Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning has launched a new workshop, ‘A day in the life: Mealtime experience’, that uses virtual reality technology to educate aged care professionals on how to provide a better dining experience for people living with dementia.

“The tastes, aromas, environment and social connections we get to enjoy in our everyday activities should be just as positive and engaging for people living with dementia in an aged care home,” Dementia Australia Acting CEO Anthony Boffa said.

Poor nutrition is a major health problem for many older people, especially those living with dementia. According to a 2015 Dementia Australia discussion paper, poor nutritional intake and a lack of fluids can contribute to the development of delirium in people with dementia, which can lead to rapid declines in mental state and changes in behaviour.

“This reinforces Dementia Australia’s call for the need for mandatory, dementia specific training for the aged care workforce, as we know a more informed and trained workforce will result in improved health and care experiences for people living with dementia in residential aged care,” Mr Boffa said.

The virtual reality technology was developed by Dementia Australia with Deakin University.

Professor Kon Mouzakis, Co-director of Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute – known as A²I² –  said the workshop is an example of how virtual reality technology can be used to foster empathy and understanding.

“As the user experiences the impact of distractions like pagers buzzing, the clutter of crockery and competing conversations going on around them, it can provide a valuable learning opportunity,” he said.

‘A day in the life: Mealtime experience’ is one of a comprehensive suite of education programs offered to all aged care providers across Australia delivered by Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning.

For more information about the Centre for Dementia Learning, its national services and technology, please visit: dementialearning.org.au

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