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VR workshop educates aged care workers in mealtimes for people with dementia

National peak body, Dementia Australia, has launched a new workshop through its Centre for Dementia Learning, utilising Virtual Reality (VR) Technology to teach aged care workers how to improve dining experiences for older people with dementia.

This workshop is in response to the findings from the Royal Commission, providing support to the aged care workforce tp improve health and care for people with dementia. [Source: Shutterstock]

The workshop called ‘A day in the life - mealtime experience’ was launched today, showing participants through VR what mealtime can be like for a person with dementia.

Eating and enjoying food is an important part of the human experience and tastes, aromas, environment and social connections all come into play when creating an engaging experience for a person with dementia in a nursing home.

Anthony Boffa, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Dementia Australia, says for all of us our experiences with food and mealtimes are anchor points throughout each day.

“Dining is a sensory experience that should be celebrated and enjoyed at every stage of life; dementia does not change the desire for an enjoyable meal,” says Mr Boffa.

“Unfortunately because nutrition is a health concern for people living with dementia, it is crucial to educate aged care employees on how they can create an environment that facilitates eating not only for enjoyment but also for better health.

“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.”

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has found education and training for staff critically important, especially when developing a best practice for providing food to people with dementia. 

This workshop from Dementia Australia is in response to the findings from the Royal Commission by providing that support to the aged care workforce and improve health and care experiences for people with dementia.

The development team of the VR training package, Dr Tanya Petrovich, Business Innovation Manager from the Centre for Dementia Learning at Dementia Australia, and Professor Kon Mouzakis, Co-Director of Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute, wanted to use technology to foster empathy and understanding of the lived experience of dementia.

“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,” says Professor Mouzakis.

“We want to help all people who work in aged care to understand how all this activity combined presents for a person living with dementia who will be trying to process what’s going on around them whilst at the same time wanting to enjoy their meal.”

Besides the new VR program, the Centre for Dementia Learning provides accredited and non-accredited courses to educate and support people with dementia, their carers and families.

For more information about the Centre for Dementia Learning, its national services and technology, please visit the Dementia Australia Centre website.


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