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IMERCYVE Virtual Reality Launch

National Carers Week, commencing from 11 October, is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles. To mark National Carers Week, Mercy Connect is pleased to launch a new partnership with La Trobe University’s John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research.

The partnership seeks to undertake research and create innovative solutions to ensure better outcomes for people in the disability and aged care sector to live fulfilled lives in the community. Mercy Connect recently commissioned a Virtual Reality (VR) application to increase empathy and understanding by embodying the user in a first-person lived experience viewpoint. The VR, developed by Valley General Hospital, will be prepared for use with the Oculus Quest headset and aims to support staff who work directly with people with a range of disabilities, including intellectual disability and autism. This self-contained and wireless platform allows for wide-spread availability and interaction without the need for an external computer.

Mercy Connect’s Chief Executive Officer, Trent Dean stated, “One in five Australians are living with disability, with many requiring specialised care and support to ensure their ongoing health and wellbeing. Raising empathy and awareness for those living with disability is an essential part of our health workforce training, and the development of this innovative VR application is another important step in achieving this outcome.”

La Trobe researchers will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of this innovative VR application to increase empathy among the healthcare workforce. Professor Irene Blackberry, Director of the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, said “COVID-19 drives adoption of technology and remote learning. Research evidence about VR applications to enhance empathy is minimal. This project outcome is particularly relevant for supporting rural and regional based carers in our  healthcare workforce.”

Mercy Connect Board Chair, Matthew Clancy, expressed “Mercy Connect recently commissioned a Virtual Reality (VR) application to increase personal empathy and understanding of disability, by embodying the user in a first-person lived experience viewpoint. The VR, developed by Valley General Hospital, is being prepared for use with the Oculus Quest headset and aims to support staff who work directly with people with a range of disabilities, including intellectual disability and autism. In addition, it is with great pleasure that we acknowledge our recent research partnership with La Trobe University’s John Richards Centre for Rural Aging Research. Together, we will seek to conduct innovative research to help us advocate for people in the disability and aged care sector so that they can live fulfilled lives.”

The launch was hosted by Mercy Connect at St John’s Chapel in Thurgoona on Tuesday 13 October 2020. It was well attended by Mercy Connect staff, John Richards Centre, Valley General Hospital and other key stakeholders, both in-person and via Zoom.

You can view the recording here. 
(Password: FvY.q@D7 )

Read more about the project here.

 

L-R: Trent Dean (CEO, Mercy Connect), Caroline Cummins (Executive Leader, Clinical Services), Professor Irene Blackberry (Director, John Richards Centre), Matthew Clancy (Board Chair, Mercy Connect)