Using VR de-escalating training for dementia education

Dementia Australia

Friday, 24 May, 2024

Using VR de-escalating training for dementia education

A new virtual reality training workshop has been launched to help with de-escalating a behavioural emergency for dementia patients.

D-Esc, which was launched by Dementia Australia, provides an immersive simulation — designed for frontline and healthcare professionals — to adopt an interactive approach to de-escalation training. Participants will build empathy and understanding towards people with dementia, with the aim to reduce the use of restrictive practices and the number and severity of dangerous incidents in care.

Dementia Australia Executive Director Services, Advocacy and Research Dr Kaele Stokes said the new workshop provides training that is integral to the safety and professional development of the workforce, as well as to improving the care of people living with dementia.

“Behavioural emergencies and occupational violence in aged care are time-critical emergencies,” Stokes said.

“We know that dementia can change people’s behaviour. People living with dementia may feel anxious, fearful, distressed, confused. They may also be in pain or disorientated.

“Sometimes the way they are experiencing a situation may mean a person is unable to communicate how they feel or what they are experiencing in the familiar ways.

“Additionally, the way a care worker communicates with people living with dementia is vital. Communication is not just talking.

“Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning. Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.

“Course participants will build their empathy, increase their understanding of dementia and skills in communication, recognising emotional and physical signs of escalation and how to reduce the risk of harm for both the person with dementia, other residents, visitors and staff.

“D-Esc leverages technology to build participants’ confidence and capability to assess and respond effectively to changed behaviours safely.”

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate Phil Hazell lives with younger onset dementia. He believes that training like this is important for promoting understanding and awareness around dementia.

“I like to know that I am understood. It is important that people comprehend what dementia is and how it can affect people differently,” Hazell said.

“Training can help workers to understand, approach and help people living with dementia, without making assumptions.”

Launch events for D-Esc to the aged care sector are scheduled across Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide where guests can experience demonstrations.

The D-Esc workshops are designed for frontline health and aged care workers across residential, home and community care, primary and acute care and disability care. Workshop delivery is an in-person three-hour workshop, with up to 15 participants.

D-Esc is a fully funded workshop until 30 June 2025, available to 6500 eligible participants. It was developed with the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A²I²), Deakin University.

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