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Connecting Seniors Through Virtual Reality

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Connecting Seniors Through Virtual Reality

Milton Public Library

Digital Equity and Citizenship | 2021

Innovation Summary

Milton Public Library was one of the first libraries in Canada to utilize virtual reality to help offset further decline into Alzheimer’s/dementia. As a result of the pandemic, with MPL staff being unable to attend the facilities to provide the immersive VR experiences, staff provided virtual training to long term care staff so they could use the equipment with residents.

Problem Statement

In addition to offsetting further decline into Alzheimer’s/dementia, through the utilization of VR of which the benefits of which are now fully accepted, older adults are at greater risk of social isolation. As a result of the pandemic, with MPL staff being unable to attend the facilities to provide the immersive VR experiences that they had become accustomed to, staff provided virtual training to care home staff so they could use the equipment with their residents who pre-pandemic had dependency on the library staff to do so.


Innovation

While the focus of the VR program remains offsetting further decline into Alzheimer’s/dementia, long term care staff were able to utilize the technology to decrease and limit social isolation amongst the population, who were confined to their rooms for much of the pandemic. Our partners, Rendever, have designed their technology so that multiple users can participate at once, encouraging discussion and providing a crucial social element during a time where local seniors were at increased risk of social isolation.


Progress

  • This initiative served to combat loneliness/social isolation encountered as a result of the pandemic, which can further negatively impact those with early onset Alzheimer’s/dementia.
  • Remote training was provided to long-term care staff allowing their ongoing ability to utilize VR without MPL staff input. Doing so provided social isolation reduction whilst ensuring the pandemic restrictions on MPL staff entering the facility to counter Alzheimer’s/dementia with this technology was not negated by their absence.