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HCQU Looks to Virtual Reality (VR) to Improve Training

Demonstrating Virtual Reality

Pennsylvania's Health Care Quality Units (HCQUs) are constantly evaluating the status quo in caregiving. One HCQU, Milestone, is looking to advancements in technology to improve training methods. Virtual reality (VR) headsets are goggle shaped pieces of technology that immerse users in three-dimensional digital worlds. Although commonly known for video games and recreational uses, virtual reality allows users to drop into settings and situations that provide 'hands-on' experience and eliminate risk. Perfect for training modules that deal with dangerous situations, as Natalie Symons thought.

Symons and her team at Milestone HCQU West have teamed up with virtual reality developers, OpenARC, to create a virtual reality training module to supplement their Dysphagia training course. "Our Virtual Reality Training is comprised of 60 to 90 minutes of instructor based information related to Dysphagia and the mechanical altering of foods and thickening of liquids," says Symons, "participants will then have the opportunity to transport to a virtual reality residential setting for people with disabilities where they will be instructed to create different meal consistencies. They will be able to chop, slice, and blend dinner with the use of the controller and assist people in eating in the proper position while limiting distractions. The 'game' is won when everyone is 100% full and there were no incidents of choking."

Most studies find that hands-on training modules are the most effective with adult learners. However, when administering direct support, mistakes have the potential to put an individual's life in jeopardy. "Having people interact in a virtual world allows for growth and learning from mistakes without harm coming to anyone," says Symons.

Milestone's virtual reality training module is currently in its trial phase and is scheduled to formally begin in April. Milestone plans to expand their virtual reality training program after rolling out the dysphagia module and gathering feedback. "There was and is a large learning curve in the development of this training and we are looking forward to receiving feedback from the participants.

Posted: January 24, 2020 11:28