Launch of Virtual Reality Training programme report

30/10/2019

Launch of Virtual Reality Training programme reportFlorence Sharkey, Lead Nurse for Research and Development at the Western Trust in partnership with Ulster University colleague’s Dr Paul Slater, Dr Felicity Hasson and Dr Kevin Moore have come together to undertake research on ‘The impact of a Virtual Reality Training Programme in relation to dementia. The overall aim of this study was to explore and examine the impact of a Virtual Dementia Training (VDT®) Programme on participants in terms of their health professional knowledge, understanding and empathy in the provision of person-centred care for dementia patients.  
 
Florence Sharkey commented: “Clinical and physical aspects of care are often the focus of service improvements and are more readily measured. However, in this project, undertaken within the hospital and community settings, the focus has been on enhancing empathy, knowledge and person-centred care in dementia care. Several recommendations based on this study’s findings are now presented to further enhance our understanding of the context and importance of the Virtual Dementia Training Programme.  The recommendations address issues relating to policy, practice, education and research. This study has highlighted core components of the VDT® training programme that help and enable care staff to develop a more empathetic experience for the person living with dementia and every effort should be made to enable care staff to have these educational experiences that are considered enablers for person-centred care.  The findings of this study have implications for health and social policy and for the organization and management of dementia care and dementia training.  The quality of care should be underpinned by integrative training approaches that enable person-centred care to flourish and which help to maximize the degree of decisional autonomy in day-to-day activities for the person living with dementia.  It is recommended that education providers and care environments work in partnership to provide high quality practice learning experiences for undergraduate and postgraduate students that include an emphasis on Virtual Reality Training.   The findings from this study explicate core issues on the meaning and context of Virtual Reality Training Programmes for a person living with dementia. Further research is needed to test the relevance of the constructs identified in a more diverse sample of care staff working in other health and social care environments.”
 
Expressing her thanks on behalf of the authors of the report Florence Sharkey said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone who made the completion of this study possible. Firstly, thanks must go to all the participants, both the carers and staff groups who consented to take part in this research study. Thank you to the Western Trust for their unstinting support and assistance with all aspects of the project management on various Trust sites and their support in funding and facilitating this research study. We wish to also thank the Order of Malta, Omagh for their support with refreshments throughout the study.”
 
Dr Bob Brown, Western Trust Director of Primary Care and Older Peoples Services and Executive Director of Nursing said: “I am delighted to present the summary report today and wish to thank everyone who participated in this comprehensive research. Virtual Dementia Training is a scientifically proven method of helping staff to understand what people with dementia experience every day and is ‘a window into their world’.   With the projected significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia it is important that as a health and social care provider we continue to empower our staff to deliver high quality of care for people living with dementia and their families. Approximately one quarter of our hospital beds are occupied by patients with a dementia diagnosis and our staff play a pivotal role in recognising the needs of these patients and tailoring their care to meet such needs. The Western Trust is committed to providing our staff with the right knowledge and skills to do their job well and supporting them to care for people living with dementia and other conditions that affect memory.”
 
The report can be accessed via Ulster University Person-centred Practice Research Centre at: http://www.science.ulster.ac.uk/inhr/pcp/publications.php