Caregivers, the unsung heroes of dementia care, are taking centre stage in an ambitious initiative to redefine aging-in-place for persons living with dementia. The VR-SIM Carers Initiative, funded by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) through its Aging in Place Challenge program and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is set to revolutionize dementia caregiver training through a multi-year research and development project.
In tandem with this initiative, the VR-SIM Carers Initiative is proud to unveil its user-friendly website, a dynamic hub for knowledge mobilization and community-building, empowering caregivers with valuable resources and opportunities for active engagement.
An Innovative Collaboration
This Collaborative Research and Development initiative is laser-focused on co-designing a virtual reality (VR) simulation training environment tailored specifically for dementia caregivers. The project actively seeks end-user perspectives, addressing design and implementation challenges and opportunities. The outcome will be a virtual reality prototype that is not just innovative but clinically efficacious, scalable, and sustainable.
Empowering Caregivers through Virtual Reality
Within this training environment, caregivers will have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the intricate world of caregiving. They can safely practice essential skills such as communication and behavioural management for persons with dementia. The virtual reality training program is rooted in the evidence-based Reitman Centre CARERS (Coaching, Advocacy, Respite, Education, Relationship, Simulation) Program led by Dr. Sadavoy and his team.
Leaders in the Field
Drs. Amer Burhan and Mary Chiu of Ontario Shores are spearheading the VR-SIM Carers project, collaborating with researchers, innovators, and clinician-scientists from the NRC, Ontario Tech University, Baycrest Centre, Sinai Health System, and the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance.
A Visionary Journey - Three Years in the Making
Under the visionary leadership of the NRC and CIHR, the VR-SIM Carers Initiative marks a pioneering step towards redefining training and skills-building for dementia caregivers. This ground-breaking initiative will engage caregivers, older adults, and community partners in co-designing an innovative skills-building program. This program will allow caregivers to immerse themselves in a virtual environment and practice the diverse skillsets crucial to their caregiving roles.
Key Project Highlights:
- Caregivers as Key Partners: Recognizing caregivers as vital partners in the dementia care journey, this initiative aims to empower them with the knowledge and skills to provide compassionate and effective care.
- Innovative Aging-in-Place: Funded by the NRC and CIHR, the VR-SIM Carers Initiative focuses on enhancing aging-in-place by harnessing the potential of virtual reality technology.
- Community Engagement: Caregivers, older adults, and community partners will actively participate in the design, development, and testing of this transformative skills-building program.
- National Reach: The project envisions engaging over 100 caregivers, researchers, and community representatives from across the nation through various activities, including online surveys, consensus-building processes, and large-scale knowledge summits.
- Knowledge Mobilization: A dedicated project website will serve as a hub for knowledge mobilization and community-building, keeping knowledge users and dementia caregivers informed and actively engaged in co-creating the virtual reality training program.
The VR-SIM Carers Initiative stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation. It is a collective effort to uplift the lives of caregivers, persons living with dementia, and the aging-in-place community as a whole.
For media inquiries, please contact:
External Relations Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
905-430-4055 ext. 6574
About the VR-SIM Carers Initiative:
The VR-SIM Carers Initiative, funded by the NRC through its Aging in Place Challenge program and CIHR, is dedicated to enhancing the skills of dementia caregivers through virtual reality technology. The project places a strong emphasis on co-design, community engagement, and knowledge mobilization to transform the landscape of dementia caregiving and aging-in-place.
About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences:
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences is a leader in mental health care, providing a range of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.