Using Virtual Reality for Dementia Caregiving Training
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 7, 2023—Santa Clara University students and faculty recently completed a groundbreaking virtual reality training program for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, which they will be testing at a local dementia care program and a home health agency in Washington, D.C.
The program walks a caregiver virtually through several scenarios in which a person living with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated, confused or aggressive during sundowning–-a common symptom of the disease. The user will have the ability to try out different responses and then experience the outcomes in realistic cinematography and emotion. The team hopes to add more scenarios and conversational components in future versions.
With the support of a grant from the Richard and Maude Ferry Foundation in Seattle, 11 students and 5 faculty from SCU’s public health, bioengineering, neuroscience, psychology, theatre arts, and communication departments have completed the filming milestone towards their goal of a comprehensive virtual reality experience. The final project is expected to be live in the field with caregivers in early 2024.
The project comes out of the SCU Healthcare Innovation and Design Program, led by director Prashanth Asuri, and Julia Scott, director of the Brain and Memory Care Lab.
Santa Clara University is developing this 360-degree VR training experience with the goal of improving the outcome of caregivers assisting persons living with dementia. Among the goals are to increase empathy and decrease stress for caregivers, while improving quality of care. According to ALZ.org, in 2022 an estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's disease. And the toll on those providing care is steep: The dementia-care industry has a 67% caregiver turnover rate, while 40% of informal caregivers report experiencing stress-related depression.
“If we can impact just a fraction of the caregivers of this population to learn person-centered care practices through VR training that they can implement at home, the positive impact would extend to whole families,” said Scott.
SCU’s 360-degree VR filmmaking production partner on the project, CreatorUp, has extensive experience in producing this kind of content that ensures that the viewer/learner can suspend disbelief and truly be in the training moment.
“We know from data published by Meta, PwC, Google, and Fortune, that people retain information better, and score higher, when trained in VR,” said Dan Krolczyk, metaverse director for CreatorUp. “However, any opportunity the brain has to pick up on something out of place is a chance for the learner to get distracted. That’s why professional filmmaking and meticulous editing is critical to projects like this.“
“The process of creating the dementia care virtual experience was a very insightful experience of how medical, production, and technological worlds can truly come together to serve the dementia and caregiving fields,” said Elizabeth Garcia ’25, an SCU communication student who worked on set with the CreatorUp production team.
Over the next several months, SCU students and faculty plan to demonstrate the project at support facilities and with others working with people living with dementia. The team will gather input from these stakeholders to direct the development of the project.
About Santa Clara University’s Healthcare Innovation and Design Program
Established in 2017, the Healthcare Innovation and Design program is Santa Clara Univeristy’s on-campus hub to empower students and faculty from all majors to address complex challenges in healthcare. In collaboration with Silicon Valley healthcare and biotech companies, as well as foundations that address healthcare disparities, the program promotes academic growth through real-world applications and personal impact. Through its partnerships, the program exposes students to 21st century’s most urgent healthcare challenges, and trains them to develop innovative technologies and services that will revolutionize various areas of healthcare.
CreatorUp is a 360VR and video production company that allows clients to instantly purchase from more than 900 video solutions. From live-action to animation, live-streaming to immersive 360VR, CreatorUp provides impactful content across all industries. With expertise in education, social impact, events, and all types of business and marketing communications, CreatorUp helps organizations of any size inspire, educate, and drive results through video.The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in Athens, Dubai, Mumbai, and Singapore.Visit us online at creatorup.com.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | email@example.com | 408-554-5121
Prashanth Asuri| Director Healthcare Innovation and Design Program | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-551-3005 Mike Tringe | CEO & co-founder, CreatorUp | email@example.com | 323-300-4725.