Virtual Reality in the Care of People with Dementia: A Single-Case Research Study
The purpose of the project is to evaluate the use of Virtual Reality in terms of its effects on behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, quality of life, and medication use during an eight-week intervention period among persons with dementia, and to describe the care staff’s experiences with respect to the usability and feasibility of Virtual Reality in their care of PwD in a nursing home setting.
Project manager at MDU
More than 90% of people with dementia develop behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. First-line care strategies in dementia care should consider a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. The present single-case research study aimed to evaluate the use of Virtual Reality in the context of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, quality of life, and medication use among people with dementia. Ten persons with dementia used Virtual Reality for a mean of twice per week for eight weeks. In each Virtual Reality session, lasting for a maximum of 30 minutes, the persons with dementia chose one to three short films from 11 different films: a hen run, a farm with animals, two cafés, an old-fashioned grocery shop, a local river, a square in the local city, a museum, a castle, a fishing boat and an Austrian mountain scenery.
Quantitative and qualitative data were collected pre-, during, and post-intervention. No major differences in the quantitative data in terms of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, quality of life, or medication use were observed. However, the qualitative data showed that the use of Virtual Reality provided the persons with dementia with short-term enjoyment, heightened energy and alertness, and an experience of reminiscence.
The care staff considered the use of Virtual Reality to be useful and feasible in their care for the persons with dementia. The use of virtual reality may therefore serve as a complementary tool to the existing non-pharmacological management techniques of people with dementia in nursing homes.
The project objectives are to contribute with innovative intervention research on a non-pharmacological treatment alternative in the care of people with dementia.