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'Enchanted forest' to stimulate dementia residents

A new sensory therapy program, designed through the use of video game technology, is being trialled and piloted to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia in residential aged care.
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Victorian aged care provider, Lifeview Residential Care, teams up with Alzheimers Australia Vic to trial and pilot its Virtual Forest Project to improve the lives of residents living with dementia.

Victorian aged care provider, Lifeview Residential Care (Lifeview), has teamed with Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria to trial and pilot its Virtual Forest Project.

Lifeview has signed as a corporate sponsor of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic for two years in a relationship that will see exclusive participation by Lifeview, its residents and staff in preliminary and final trials of the Virtual Forest Project.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic will offer Lifeview staff specialist training in trialing the Virtual Forest experience. The first of the trials and education sessions began earlier this month.

Mary Klopper, Lifeview Argyle Court personal carer, recently undertook the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic training and was buoyed by the experience.

“The training we have so far undertaken has been not only extraordinary but also eye opening. This technology is amazing and I cannot wait for the Virtual Forest to be rolled out in our homes, it will really make a difference to our dementia residents," Ms Klopper says.

Madeline Gall, Lifeview chief executive, is equally enthusiastic about the relationship and opportunities the program will potentially offer Lifeview’s residents and staff.

“By teaming with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic we are not only helping to assist in the valuable work they do in the area of dementia research and support but we are also bringing to our residents this day changing technology, whilst giving our staff a better understanding of dementia, and the leading edge technology available to assist those living with this condition," Ms Gall says.

The overall experience, thoughts, reactions and demeanor of residents will form part of the valuable feedback on this project.

Maree McCabe, Alzheimer's Australia Vic chief executive, believes Lifeview's sponsorship and assistance has to brought the project to fruition.

“Without the generous support of likeminded individuals and corporates such as Lifeview, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic would not be able to bring this cutting edge technology to people living with dementia. Lifeview’s partnership means this technology will be available and making a difference to the quality of people's lives by this time next year," Ms McCabe says.

The Virtual Forest will be exclusively available in Lifeview homes for dementia residents for the first six months.

What is the Virtual Forest Project?

Imagine being able to take a person with dementia out of their everyday experience and into a virtual environment through which they will experience awe, wonder, amazement and joy.

The Virtual Forest Project is a sensory therapy application designed to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia through the use of video game technology.

The project uses cutting edge technology, which aims to turn a living room or lounge in an aged care home into an enchanted space that both stimulates the senses and engages through interactivity.

The virtual environment is being designed from the ground up specifically for people with dementia and will provide a beautiful, calming and highly interactive experience.

Imagine being able to take a person with dementia out of their everyday experience and into a virtual environment through which they will experience awe, wonder, amazement and joy. 

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