Getting comfortable with VR

Staff are integral to getting VR started as an activity in aged care. It’s important for staff to feel comfortable using VR so that residents can have the best possible experience. A senior management sponsor or advocate who can champion VR also really helps to ensure VR is supported in the organisation.

These are some things that help get everyone up to speed:

  • Nominate one or two staff members to be the main coordinator/s for the VR. They don’t need to have any prior VR experience – just enthusiasm to give it a go! Having people in this type of roles helps with a couple of things – it encourages other staff to try and use VR, it demystifies the technology, and also makes it easier to manage the headsets. Coordinators can also show other staff members how to use VR.
  • Let the coordinators try out the VR for themselves, either at work or at home, just to get comfortable with it. Allowing time for staff members to learn about VR makes the experience better for residents and ensures the technology is used in a safe way. Doing VR together might be a great team-building exercise!
    “I took the VR home and tried it for the weekend. My kids were excited too. It was a good way to get used to it” Lifestyle Manager.
  • Encourage staff to do online training in delivering VR safely.

Good free VR apps on Oculus Quest for staff to get started:

  • First Steps (helps to get used to controllers)
  • First Contact (great to get familiar with the VR environment)

“Just want you to know that the headsets are all set up and ready to go! Downloaded Alcove and had a go at someĀ ion the games. It’s amazing! I even went to visit my hometown.” Activities Manager

Important Advice – Guiding aged care residents in VR

Some residents may be hesitant to use VR. They might think they are too old to use VR or that VR will make them feel sick. Some older people may not be familiar with technology and won’t know much about VR. And others might be the complete opposite and are keen to try out adventurous experiences. Whatever the case, it’s important to listen to the residents, be empathetic and reassuring, and enable people to be in control of their own experience. Your encouragement and support will make all the difference!

And don’t forget to continually assess residents’ ability and VR experience. Residents’ capacity and ability sometimes vary daily, or even hourly – some sessions, residents may be happy to just look on and observe. As the VR Coordinator, you must take responsibility for supporting, enabling, and empowering residents to participate – to the degree they feel comfortable.

Unlike with other cohorts, running VR with older people may require more time – to set up, to explain the experience, and to ensure that everybody enjoys this novel experience.

Before running a session:

  1. Complete the VR Online Training – (our course and the equal reality course on immersive safety):
  2. Practise putting a headset on someone else. Get familiar with how to do this with people who wear glasses. Practise helping to adjust the headset.
  3. Try out the apps you plan to use with the residents, so you’re familiar with how they work. If possible, try them out with another staff member so you can see how the experience might work for someone else.
  4. Organise an appropriate space, have the cleaning equipment ready to go (anti-bacterial wipes and silicon face covers).
  5. Charge up your headsets and have fresh batteries ready for your controllers.

You’re ready to go! Head to Getting started with your residents.