Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Virtual Dementia Experience

29 August 2014

National iAward for Virtual Dementia Experience – ‘Serious games’ a Victorian education innovation in technology winner

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Virtual Dementia Experience at the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre, Parkville has been awarded the national 2014 iAward in the Education Category.

The world’s first use of serious game technology aiming to transform dementia care education to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, received the award tonight at the ceremony to honour both organisations and individuals at the cutting edge of technology innovation as well as leading professionals across the ICT industry.

The iAwards recognises the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators.

“As the peak body in Victoria we are very honoured to have received the national iAward Education Category that demonstrates our commitment to improving healthcare outcomes for our community,” Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic CEO said.

The Virtual Dementia Experience takes the participant through a multi-sensory simulation using light, sound, colour and visual content while incorporating ‘serious games’ technology to create a virtual reality experience - Aged and healthcare workers are taken in to the world of dementia.

The experience includes doughnut shaped mood lighting, a massive ten metre by two metre wall that can have a seamless image projected across its width and breadth, an interactive touch screen and gesture- sensor technology.

"The intention is to lead our course participants into thinking differently in their approach to caring,” Ms McCabe said.

“Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is dedicated to bringing plans, innovations and best practices into reality and the example of our Victorian team’s Virtual Dementia Experience has succeeded in putting dementia care education at the forefront of Victorian healthcare.

“I wish to acknowledge the extraordinary work of the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic team, Dr Tanya Petrovich, Manager Business Development and the game developer team from Melbourne’s Opaque Multimedia, James Bonner, Liam McGuire and Norman Wang.

Since the Virtual Dementia Experience was launched at the opening of the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre in October 2013 almost 1,000 people have been exposed to the intense, moving experience.

In March 2014, the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs acknowledged the ground breaking work of the VDE and recommended that all states develop installations similar to that at the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre, Parkville.*

“I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to take part in the virtual experience. I had an 8 hour shift in the facility the next day and I was able to use the experience several times, in different ways, throughout the day. It was such an incredible feeling, “ one course participant said.

International attention has seen Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and Opaque Multimedia invited to multiple conferences to demonstrate the Virtual Dementia Experience to ageing, dementia and game developer experts, including

  • WHO Global Forum on Innovations for Ageing Populations, Japan 2013
  • Institute for the Future Health Horizons Conference, San Francisco 2014
  • Game Developers Conference, San Francisco 2014
  • International Federation of Ageing Conference, Hyderabad 2014
  • LASA Tri-State Conference, Albury 2014

The Virtual Dementia Experience was also a 2014 finalist in the Australian Microsoft Imagine Cup.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic will now represent Australia at the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards in, Pakistan later this year.