New Technology for Dementia

By Lindsey LeClair, GHI Administrator in Training

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Tools We’ve Recently Discovered

At Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI), we are continually exploring new innovations, from smart home technologies to new options for dementia care, support and training. I’ve been working recently on organization-wide efforts in dementia, and the work has been both rewarding and exciting for me as I start my career. Goodwin House is making great strides to make more local communities dementia friendly, and we’re also discovering tools we can use to benefit members, residents and staff as we work together to raise awareness and understanding.

When asked why this focus on dementia is important for our organization, Jessica Peters, Administrator of Assisted Living at GHBC, stated “Dementia will touch the lives of every single individual within the Goodwin House Incorporated community. Leaning in and supporting those who have a diagnosis of dementia and their caregivers has never been more important. Expanding knowledge, building empathy and developing awareness for both residents and staff is essential in moving forward our mission.”

Jessica is one of the shepherds for our Dementia Advance Team, a group of GHI staff working to bring new ideas to GHI to support the highest quality of life for those with dementia and equip those who care for them with necessary knowledge and training.

We are excited to share three of the technologies the team has been exploring.

iN2L: A Tablet-Based Engagement Tool

GHI soon will introduce the iN2L (It’s Never 2 Late) system, a person-centered tool that is designed to help older adults make the most of technology. Using a touch-screen tablet, users engage with content that is specific to their interests.

Here’s how the website describes iN2L: “From using e-mail to connect with family and friends, to enjoying mind-stimulating activities, to improving hand-eye coordination as part of a rehabilitation program, elders with a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities, most of whom have never used a computer, are now enjoying technology using systems adapted especially for them.”

Founded in 1999, the company that created the iN2L system is expanding this technology to develop engagement tools individuals with dementia and other cognitive disorders. Among their partners are The Dementia Action Alliance, LeadingAge, and the Eden Alternative. Goodwin House is excited to introduce the iN2L to residents in our memory care neighborhoods – the Terrace at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads and Stonebrook at Goodwin House Alexandria.

Virtual Dementia Tour: Simulation Training

GHI has also invested in Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT), an evidence-based dementia simulation training technology. Using sensory tools and instructions, VDT walks someone through the world the way someone living with dementia might experience it. At Goodwin House, we will use VDT for staff training, equipping caregivers with the knowledge and experience to help them give excellent person-centered care. We will be holding open-houses where residents and GHI team members can use Virtual Dementia Tour, and will be incorporating it into New Employee Orientation starting in October.

Embodied Labs: Virtual Reality for Building Empathy

Another interesting training tool we explored is Embodied Labs. Using a virtual reality headset, Embodied Labs is designed to help users develop empathy by embodying someone living with dementia as they progress throughout the stages of the disease. Throughout September, GHI hosted demonstration sessions of this innovative new technology. Several team members and residents tried out the virtual experience themselves, and give their feedback to better guide our future plans with this and other state-of-the-art training tools.

woman sits at desk computer while wearing a virtual reality

Kathie Miller tries Embodied Lab virtual reality training. (photo by Lindsey LeClair)

“I was glad to have a chance to try Embodied Labs while we were testing it,” shared GHI Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications Kathie Miller, after her experience with the training tool. “Though basic, it hit on the many elements we talk about at work—what someone experiences as they lose vision and cognition, as well as what caregivers go through. I can see how it’s designed to help develop empathy, especially if you are still building your own awareness and compassion towards those living with this condition.”

As part of our ongoing efforts and strategic planning, GHI looks forward to trying out more technology, such as smart home systems, training tools and other innovative products and services that can be used in dementia care and all that we do to support, honor and uplift the lives of older adults and the people who care for them.

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Lindsey LeClair recently received her master’s degree in health administration from the George Washington University. Lindsey joined Goodwin House Incorporated as an administrator-in-training as she works to become a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. Lindsey takes a keen interest in operations, community-based services, innovative programming, process improvement and leadership development.