Virtual Reality Changing Dementia Care in Australia

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Ms Leanne Emerson, Executive Director Business Development at Dementia Australia joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Virtual Reality Changing Dementia Care in Australia’.


Traditional dementia care education methods have not had the desired impact on dementia care. Dementia Australia felt that a more experiential education using virtual reality (VR) would give dementia care workers and family carers a more empathic understanding of dementia. This presentation will share learnings from concept development, the consumer consultation, with video footage of technology in action through to education outcomes.

With an estimated 50 million people living with dementia globally, in Australia 425,000 and with an estimated 1.2 million Australians involved in the care of people with dementia, the need for change is essential.

With these objectives the world’s first application of serious game technology in dementia care, the Virtual Dementia Experience™ (VDE), was developed to create an immersive, interactive virtual reality experience that invades the senses and takes people into the world of a person living with dementia – simulating thoughts, fears and challenges.

Launched in October 2013, the VDE™ has been experienced by more than 4,000 people. In 2016, EDIE- Experiential Dementia Immersive Experience was released that builds on the VR experience of VDE™, a mobile solution which can now be delivered nationally and internationally.

To date this research has found that in the VDE™ dementia care workers, when compared to participants in a non-virtual reality workshop, gained threefold more empathy for the person living with dementia, and were able to identify more dementia-friendly elements.

Our team combine the use of VR technology across a comprehensive suite of programs which are improving the quality of care provided to people living with dementia. Dementia Australia has become internationally recognised for its use of technology to aide learning. The team is driven by a strong desire to create unique learning experiences which touch, move and inspire participants to change the way they think and behave.

BBehSc, Post Grad Dip Applied Psych, MAPS. Leanne Emerson is the Executive Director Business Development and Regional Director Victoria, Dementia Australia following 20 years of service to the organisation including various leadership roles; most recently Acting CEO Vic. In her senior roles with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, Leanne has driven the national development of the world-first Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program and successfully expanded critical dementia support services in regional Victoria. Leanne led the organisation’s move to evidence-based counselling practice Leanne has authored papers on tele-support and ethno-specific care and holds a Diploma in Business and Certificate in Workplace Leadership.

For further information on the 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit


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