Virtual reality (VR) is making big waves in the care continuum, especially within long-term care homes or retirement facilities. Today, we exist in an era where immersive technology is bringing ideas, thoughts, and information to anyone, anywhere, and anytime.
Oftentimes, patients have more to gain than what they feel like they’ve lost, especially for those suffering with physical or mental disabilities.
More than ever, retirement homes need to take critical steps to ensure their residents have the highest quality of life possible, and one way to do that is to start incorporating modern technology into their daily routines.
Below are five retirement homes on the cutting edge of innovative, immersive virtual reality.
St. Elizabeth Village – Hamilton, Ontario
The Village at St. Elizabeth Mills, a luxury retirement community in Hamilton, Ontario, is a 114-acre site along the Niagara Escarpment. The facilities are currently undergoing a redesign that will place them in the list of North America’s finest retirement communities.
The redesigned community will include a small European village with alfresco dining, a weekend farmers’ market, a health club with an indoor pool, spa, and dance studio, a choice of five restaurants in the town square, and an array of activities and classes from golf to yoga. The developers even enlisted the help of Forrec Ltd, a Canadian company known for its amusement park developments, which include Canada's Wonderland, Germany's Legoland, and Universal Studios Florida.
"The over-55 consumer is demanding this entertainment lifestyle," says Eric O'Rourke, Forrec's Director of Resorts. "They want something that moves away from the 'in a rocking chair, waiting out their golden years in a small one-bedroom apartment' style [of aging]. They want to program their life as if they were on vacation."
2. The Glebe Centre – Ottawa, Ontario
Considered to be one of the best places to retire in Canada in 2018, the Glebe Centre in Ottawa has raised the bar for long-term care facilities. This year, the Glebe Centre implemented BikeAround, a system of stationary bikes with moveable steering wheels and pedals that give the user the ability to digitally move around streets and neighbourhoods using a Google Street View projection. It is a great form of exercise and is often used by Alzheimer’s patients.
The Glebe Centre has been one of the primary care providers for seniors in and around the Ottawa area for over 130 years. Beginning in 1886 as Ontario’s first Home for the Aged, the Glebe Centre has continued its dedication to seniors through the provision of services, facility-based care, and personal support.
3. One Kenton Place – Toronto, Ontario
This retirement facility focuses primarily on those that suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. A wide variety of programs and activities are offered to meet the needs of their residents, including a special AI robot by the name of Ludwig.
Created by a research team at the University of Toronto, the spiky haired, green-eyed robot is two feet tall and made to look and act like a little boy. Ludwig is designed to detect subtle changes in speech and vocal patterns that would track and monitor signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
One Kenton Place, located in North Toronto, began trials with Ludwig during the summer of 2016 and may be ushering in the next era of retirement home care.
4. Carriage Retirement House – Oshawa, Ontario
Ontario leads once again with this Oshawa long-term care facility. The Carriage Retirement House offers various physical, mental, and cognitive programs to ensure their residents stay active. These include a variety of programs like the walking club, physio, shopping trips, picnics, movies, theatre, pub nights, and outings.
The Carriage recently installed the BikeAround program in their facility as well, proving their commitment to the improvement of care for their residents.
5. Georgian Bay Retirement Home, Penetanguishene, Ontario
Physical therapist Reshawn Devendra, had a vision for the Georgian Bay Retirement Home in Penetanguishene, Ontario:
“My background in physical therapy and working in assisted living gave me an idea to work with all the space we had. I thought, ‘Why not try this?’ and from there we created comfortable spaces for senior residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia in a combined indoor/outdoor setting with many rooms.”
The comfortable spaces include things like a barbershop, a vintage kitchen, a garage with a 1947 Dodge, a nursery with life-like babies, gardens, an artificial beach, and high-tech treatment like Snoezelen therapy - a controlled multisensory environment using lighting effects, colour, music, and scent to stimulate the senses.
How to Invest in the Future At Your Facility
With each passing year, North Americans are placing a greater emphasis on the connection between health and happiness. Providing long-term residences for seniors in the coming years will require a fresh arsenal of technology and resources with which to combat Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, as well as other forms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
In response to this need, 3Scape Systems has developed research-based, specialized videos in 3D and VR formats to create immersive experiences for seniors based on the principles of reminiscence therapy. These 3D/VR productions are thoughtfully created by combining elements of geriatric psychology and visual storytelling with research-based findings on how colour, music, sight, and sound affect brain activity.
“3Scape has the potential to honour and validate the life stories of elderly patients, in particular if it’s used as a medium for reminiscence therapy or mindful meditation. It can reduce mood disorders, such as depression, and anxiety, and promote an overall sense of wellbeing in elderly patients.”
Dr. Suparna Madan, Section Head, Geriatric Psychiatry
University of Calgary
The effectiveness of VR-based cognitive rehabilitation has already been well established. However, 3Scape incorporates other proprietary elements specifically developed and tested for geriatric populations:
3Scape is a story-based narrative, which engages the audience better.
3Scape is offered in VR for individual use, as well as 3D immersive projection for use in groups, thus encouraging enhanced socialization.
3Scape combines evocative visuals, nature sounds, and emotive music for a dynamic combination of sensory feelings.
3Scape videos include built-in psychological triggers to enhance the experience.
By shooting at a high frame rate, adjusting colourization for aging eyes, slowing down the pacing, setting a high resolution, and ensuring a continuous narrative in each video, the 3Scape production team is better able to fulfill the specific rehabilitation needs of residents, as well as their caregivers’ intervention requirements.
What’s more: 3Scape offers flexibility and is available 24/7 at the push of a button.
The 3Scape 3D/VR solution is the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration between patients, physicians, researchers, therapists, and caregivers. It has the potential to become a versatile platform for progressive geriatric treatment and care, as well as a valuable source of information regarding healthy aging.
If you’d like to know more about major advances in 3D and VR technology and how to improve the lives of long-term care residents and their caregivers, download our guide HERE.
You can also check out our Library page for demo videos.