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The Successful Merger of Virtual Reality and Caregiver Training

by Shannon, March 25, 2019

Discussion of how virtual reality training works and how it can impact dementia patients and caregivers

Corporations around the world are embracing virtual reality for training purposes. From retail store owners to executives on Wall Street, virtual reality has proven to be an effective way to prepare professionals for real-world scenarios.

The same is true for caregivers now that Care Indeed has partnered with Strivr to provide Virtual Reality Dementia Training. Because dementia symptoms and behaviors are ever-changing as the disease progresses, technology has now become a catalyst to better train caregivers to provide the best possible care and Care Indeed is the first leading home care provider to utilize this technology.

It’s Not Just Standard Training

While standard caregiver training is based on lectures and role playing, the Virtual Reality Dementia Training is quite different. According to Care Indeed’s Business Development Manager Melissa Oakes, standard training is effective, but it doesn’t require the learner to immediately apply his or her knowledge in a realistic situation.

“While other virtual simulations focus on creating empathy by having the learner experience what it is like to have dementia, our training focuses on how to interact with a client that has dementia,” said Oakes.

And, empathy training is also a key focus.

“Empathy training is definitely needed, but it doesn’t train the caregiver to be successful with the client,” said Oakes. “We utilize a lecture format to introduce the caregiver to techniques and tips to being successful with a client and then we take it a step further by having those learners immediately apply their knowledge in an immersive Virtual Reality experience.”

What is Virtual Reality Training?

The training program powered by Strivr and offered by Care Indeed offers caregivers the opportunity to experience real-time scenarios. In simple terms, each caregiver is put directly into a care situation that he or she may encounter in the future. Wearing virtual reality headsets, the caregiver has the opportunity to respond to the patient and see first-hand how patients may react – both in positive and negative situations.

Because dementia develops in many forms and the severity of symptoms are different for every patient, virtual reality training helps to better prepare caregivers for the unexpected. A patient may be struggling physically, emotionally or both, and during the virtual reality training sessions, caregivers can see how their approaches are successful or need improvement.

The Many Benefits of VR Dementia Training

Not only do caregivers learn to improve and enhance their skills, dementia patients also benefit from Care Indeed’s Virtual Reality Dementia Training, powered by Strivr. According to Oakes, the training was developed with core tenants from the Alzheimer’s Association and Teepa Snow’s Foundation – two of the trusted leaders in dementia training.

The modules focus on “the dance” that caregivers must navigate in order to be successful with a client, said Oakes. “A skilled caregiver is talented at giving the client the illusion of control through narrowed choices and this skill comes from experience,” she said.

The immediate rewards are both increased caregiver confidence and an enhanced skill set that benefits both the caregiver and the client. Virtual reality training allows for more visual learning in a risk-free environment. And, the caregiver learns to remain calm and collected in situations once they’ve experienced these scenarios in a risk-free environment.

“When a caregiver is calm and collected, he or she can make calculated and proactive decisions while assisting the client,” said Oakes. Care Indeed’s VR training gives caregivers a chance to practice joining their client’s reality in a safe environment where mistakes won’t affect the client’s quality of life.

Filling a Gap in Training

Even though Care Indeed makes training a top priority, the organization began creating virtual reality training to fill a gap. “Caregivers go to a training, write notes, participate in a few role plays and then they go home and try to recall the information at a later date when they are in the moment with a client,” said Oakes.

However, many studies show that learners lose 50 percent of the information within minutes of leaving a training session, especially when the training is not interactive.

The Virtual Reality Dementia Training was developed to change that.

“Care Indeed decided to find another way to help learners retain more information without increasing training time,” said Oakes. “Virtual reality helps the learner to practice what they learned in a simulated environment, where the client’s reactions feel real.”

Simply put, it is the epitome of on-the-job training without being “on the job.”

A Successful Start

The pilot program of Care Indeed’s Virtual Reality Dementia Training has been deemed successful and the numbers speak for themselves. An initial poll tallied the following:

  • 100% of learners found the immersive training very interesting
  • 98% felt they were very engaged in the training
  • 98% felt immersive training was an effective way to gain exposure to real client interactions
  • 98% stated they would recommend this training to others in the industry

Care Indeed is not only committed to high quality care, but also empowering caregivers with advanced training techniques that embrace technology. The goal with the Virtual Reality Dementia Training is to showcase the ever-changing nature of the disease and equip caregivers with the skills to respond with compassion.

Training is at the cornerstone of what we do. Our caregivers are highly-skilled, but we believe that professional development should be a top priority. It’s inevitable that dementia patients will experience behavioral challenges, emotional outbursts and even mood swings. We believe caregivers should be exposed to this type of behavior and learn how to respond in the most effective way.

The pilot program revealed that our learners are excited when they complete the VR training and eagerly discuss what they experienced, said Oakes. “Learners quickly drew correlations between their clients and the VR clients, noting similarities and differences that could be explored further,” she said. “At the end of the day, if we are able to excite our learners to gain more knowledge and training, which will increase their skill with clients, we have completed our goal.”

Continued Learning for Caregivers

With a commitment to professional development for caregivers, Care Indeed is proud to be the first in its industry to launch Virtual Reality Dementia Training.

“The goal is to teach through practical simulation rather than theoretical concepts,” said Dee Bustos, CEO of Care Indeed.

The partnership with Strivr to offer virtual reality dementia training stemmed from Care Indeed’s commitment to offer ongoing training and continuing education for caregivers, said Bustos. “Our caregivers had expressed their desire for additional training for them to effectively map out the best possible dementia care, so we partnered with Strivr and created the VR Dementia Training,” she said.

The goal – for both caregivers and family members – is to ease the pain and improve quality of life for individuals with dementia. With the adoption of advanced technologies, Care Indeed is making this goal a reality.

The program is already gaining recognition from leaders in the industry. "Kudos to Care Indeed for leading the way locally," said Larry Hayes, CEO/Publisher of ActiveOver50.

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For more information about Care Indeed’s Virtual Reality Dementia Training program, contact the business development team at (877) 504-3822.