Taking ‘A walk through dementia’: exploring care home practitioners’ experiences of using a virtual reality tool to support dementia awareness

Hicks, Ben, Konovalova, Irma, Myers, Kirsten, Falconer, Liz and Board, Michele (2021) Taking ‘A walk through dementia’: exploring care home practitioners’ experiences of using a virtual reality tool to support dementia awareness. Ageing and Society. pp. 1-26. ISSN 0144-686X

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Emerging research has outlined the possibility for virtual reality (VR) experiences, which situate users into the perspective of someone living with dementia, to enhance dementia awareness. Currently, there is limited VR research that engages care home practitioners. It is imperative this population has high levels of dementia education given their requirements to provide care and support to residents, many of whom will be living with the condition. This paper reports on an exploratory qualitative study designed to elicit the experiences of care home practitioners who engaged with the VR application: ‘A walk through dementia’. Twenty practitioners, across four care homes in the United Kingdom, watched the VR scenarios and provided their views on the experience and the potential for the VR tool to be developed into a wider training programme to support dementia awareness. Data were collected via focus group discussions. Following an inductive thematic analysis, we constructed three themes. These suggested participants perceived the VR application offered them a convincing and immersive experience that was insightful and evocative, and provided ‘next-level’ dementia-awareness training that enabled them to reflect on care practices. Although the findings highlight important challenges for practitioners and developers wishing to use VR within dementia care, they suggest this application may be an engaging experiential learning tool that can provide care home staff with deeper cognitive and emotional awareness of living with dementia. Further work, drawing on these preliminary insights, is required to ensure the VR tool can be incorporated into a training programme that can positively contribute to the ‘dementia-friendly communities’ agenda.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Virtual reality, Dementia-education, Dementia-friendly communities, Care home, Care home practitioners
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 27 May 2021 06:54
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2021 12:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/99376

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