By Eric Wicklund, mHealth Intelligence | August 29, 2019

Eleven senior living organizations across the country will be taking part in a telemedicine program aimed at using VR technology to improve care management for dementia patients.

The program, called Best Life Impact, is being launched by the Green House Project (GHP), a Maryland-based initiative to improve senior living through innovative partnerships and concepts. It plans to use a Project ECHO telemedicine platform and virtual reality technology from Embodied Labs to teach senior care providers how to deliver dementia care.

“The powerful combination of these disruptive innovations creates a synergistic transformation for the caregivers and PLWD (people living with dementia) alike,” Susan Ryan, senior director for the GHP, said in a press release. “I have no doubt that Project ECHO and Embodied Labs – two proven models – will catapult education, knowledge and empathy to new levels in memory care.”

Developed in 2003 at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine to improve care management for people living with hepatitis, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) programs use a hub-and-spoke virtual care model to connect rural and remote practitioners with specialists for training and case management. They’re now being used in hundreds of locations around the world on a wide variety of public health and chronic care concerns, ranging from opioid abuse treatment to pediatric care to diabetes management.

“We are excited to be partnering with The Green House Project to help senior living professionals gain new knowledge, expertise, and ideas in their efforts to better care for individuals living with dementia,” Sanjeev Arora, MD, a liver disease specialist based in Albuquerque who created Project ECHO, said in the release. “The combined impact of the passion and commitment of those caring for people living with dementia with the ingenuity of the ECHO model will, we anticipate, drive extraordinary improvements in dementia care and knowledge in the field of aging services.”

GHP plans to use that platform to bring together the 11 participating senior living organizations, then bring in VR technology to give care providers an idea of what it’s like to live with dementia.

“Our immersive training platform challenges stereotypes, helping those supporting people living dementia to provide better, more understanding care,” Carrie Shaw, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Embodied Labs, said in the release. “We’re empowering the staff by giving them hands-on, personal experience using virtual reality.”

The senior living organizations taking part in the program span the country: the Ave Maria Home in Bartlett, TN; Clark Lindsey Village in Urbana, IL; Eddy Village Green in Cohoes, NY; the Hover Senior Living Community in Longmont, CO; Jewish Home Family in Rockleigh, NJ; John Knox Village-The Woodlands in Pompano Beach, FL; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA; Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo, MS; Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Pomona, CA; Saint Elizabeth Home in East Greenwich, RI; and Village on the Isle in Venice, FL.

Original Article