May 23, 2024

De-escalation VR training for behavioural emergencies set to revolutionise dementia education

De-escalation VR training for behavioural emergencies set to revolutionise dementia education
By building empathy and enhancing communication skills, this program aims to reduce incidents and improve the overall care experience for people with dementia. [Shutterstock].

Dementia Australia has today launched D-Esc, a new innovative virtual reality (VR) training workshop for de-escalating a behavioural emergency in a care setting.

D-Esc provides an immersive simulation, designed for frontline and health care professionals, to adopt an interactive approach to de-escalation training. Participants will build empathy and understanding towards people with dementia, with the aim to reduce the use of restrictive practices and the number and severity of dangerous incidents in care.

Dementia Australia Executive Director Services, Advocacy and Research Dr Kaele Stokes said this new workshop provides training which is integral to the safety and professional development of the workforce and to improving the care of people living with dementia.

“Behavioural emergencies and occupational violence in aged care are time-critical emergencies,” said Dr Stokes.

“We know that dementia can change people’s behaviour. People living with dementia may feel anxious, fearful, distressed, confused. They may also be in pain or disorientated.

“Sometimes the way they are experiencing a situation may mean a person is unable to communicate how they feel or what they are experiencing in the familiar ways.

“Additionally, the way a care worker communicates with people living with dementia is vital. Communication is not just talking.

“Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning. Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.

“Course participants will build their empathy, increase their understanding of dementia and skills in communication, recognising emotional and physical signs of escalation and how to reduce the risk of harm for both the person with dementia, other residents, visitors and staff.

“D-Esc leverages technology to build participants’ confidence and capability to assess and respond effectively to changed behaviours safely.”

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate Phil Hazell lives with younger onset dementia. Mr Hazell believes that training like this is important for promoting understanding and awareness around dementia.

“I like to know that I am understood. It is important that people comprehend what dementia is and how it can affect people differently,” said Mr Hazell.

“Training can help workers to understand, approach and help people living with dementia, without making assumptions.”

Launch events for D-Esc to the aged care sector are scheduled across Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide where guests can experience demonstrations.

The D-Esc workshops are designed for frontline health and aged care workers across residential, home and community care, primary and acute care and disability care. Workshop delivery is an in person 3-hour workshop, with up to 15 participants.

D-Esc is a fully funded workshop until 30 June 2025, available to 6,500 eligible participants. To confirm the eligibility of your staff please visit or contact

D-Esc was developed with the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A²I²), Deakin University.

D-Esc is a Dementia Australia program created with support from The Rosemary Norman Foundation, Fitzpatrick Sykes Family Foundation, Navarra Care Foundation and Australian Communities Foundation through HDR Australia Fund. With the support of Dementia Training Australia and the Australian Government, the D-Esc workshop is free for 6,500 eligible participants until 30 June 2025.

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  1. I am a Wellbeing Assistant at an aged care facility. It has a large percentage of dementia residents. I feel I need more knowledge and understanding to deal with their crisis episodes. Is the De-escalation VR training conducted on zoom?


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