Jun 07, 2023

Virtual reality bringing residents into a new world and encouraging socialisation

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Anita from Keyton was pleasantly surprised at how eager residents were for this new program. [Source: Supplied]

SPONSORED – Recently, virtual reality (VR) company SilVR Adventures had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with the passionate people within Keyton (formerly Lendlease Retirement Living).

Keyton began using SilVR Adventures’ VR program at the end of 2022, allowing residents to travel virtually and come together in a shared space and engage in new experiences.

Sonal Wallace is Keyton’s National Resident Wellbeing Manager for Retirement Living and leads Health and Wellbeing Coordinators across their 76 retirement villages in Australia.

This includes Anita and Libby, who are tasked to ensure that all residents are exposed to experiences and activities that encourage socialisation, build and strengthen relationships, and improve quality of life.

From aged care homes and retirement living communities to hospitals, SilVR Adventures’ industry-award-winning solution is being used to reduce depression and loneliness by enhancing social connections among vulnerable populations.

The experience allows residents to stimulate memories, tick off bucket list items together, revisit personal places of significance and share stories, helping to remain engaged and improve their quality of life. 

Sonal, who is an Occupational Therapist by trade, shared how she has witnessed firsthand how VR has been beneficial in the aging population. 

Some of the residents within the community had already been exposed to VR by their grandchildren which helped pique their curiosity but it was from word-of-mouth from other program participants that led to more interest.

At Keyton’s retirement villages, many residents remain active and independent but it can still be daunting to try new things and find your feet when you are one of the newer residents.

“it helped them come out of their shell,” said Sonal.

“They interacted and talked about their stories. Depending on the experience, they would reminisce or maybe talk about something they had studied at school. Tomorrow they are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, and they’re really excited about that.” 

Libby shared her experience with one resident who kept to herself for six months as she adjusted to life in her new village and fell in love with VR after some gentle prompting. 

“She barely interacted in any of the social settings… She has a neurological condition and she wasn’t confident within herself but she came to watch with some other residents and once more we encouraged her to try it” said Libby.

The program’s profound impact on residents’ social connection has seen friendship built and “travel” group formed to engage in the VR experience together.

“We’ve noticed male friendships that form and that’s cool, they build a little tour group and look forward to travelling here and there. Then they come with their passports, they love that, and it’s a lot of fun,” Anita explained.

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A group of friends “travelling” together. [Source: Supplied]

As we neared the end of our chat, we asked the team to share how SilVR Adventures VR solution helped them find fulfilment in the space they hold for the residents and their answers really showcased their genuine desire to ensure residents are given the best opportunities available to them. 

The ability to share these meaningful experiences, to introduce something exciting and innovative around technology, to allow them to see and do new things from the safety and comfort of their chairs alongside friends they have built timeless connections with – this has been an investment that is not just worthwhile, but ultimately priceless.

To learn more about SilVR Adventures, visit their website

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