Leigh Hayden is a Project Coordinator at Sheridan College’s Centre for Elder Research. The Centre for Elder Research is one of Sheridan’s six Research and Incubation Centres and conducts leading edge research in the field of aging by examining innovative ways to enhance the well-being of older adults and the environments that support them. Leigh is a medical anthropologist who obtained her doctorate from McMaster University. She is interested in how culture shapes aging and caregiving. She has considerable experience working in academic hospitals specializing in Knowledge Translation – applying research knowledge to improve people’s lives.
Emerging technologies: Implementation and evaluation of virtual reality programming for older adults
Leigh Hayden, Sheridan College, Canada
Virtual Reality (VR) use is gaining popularity in long-term care, retirement settings, and adult day programs. It offers both recreational and therapeutic opportunities. In this paper, we describe our experience implementing and evaluating VR use in long-term care and adult day programs.
We describe how we have evaluated the implementation of a VR program using the RE-AIM framework, a framework developed to capture the implementability of interventions. We also describe how we are evaluating a VR system using a realist approach by developing an evaluation (and metrics) based on a “theory of change” of the VR system, developed by staff and family care partners.
The RE-AIM approach allowed us to determine that the VR program was highly implementable but varied based on location. We share what location-based factors are facilitators and barriers to implementation, to help other sites learn how to best implement a VR program in their own settings. We also share how we have developed a formative evaluation framework and associated metrics of a VR system, to help others determine how to understand and measure the success of their own VR systems.
These implementation and evaluation methods can help long-term care homes, retirement homes, and adult day programs implement and evaluate Virtual Reality in their own settings, to maximize the value of the technology, demonstrate value to funders, and collect data to help them continuously build on and improve their programming.