Edinburgh College VR dementia programme wins national award

A programme that sees college students use Virtual Reality technology to understand what it’s like to live with dementia has won a national award. 

The Edinburgh College scheme won the ‘Digital Learning Award’ at the College Development Network (CDN) College Awards in Scotland, beating out 160 other entries. 

Jim Metcalfe, Chief Executive of CDN, said: ‘Edinburgh College’s innovative VR dementia programme is a great example of how Scotland’s colleges are building connections with employers to give students the skills and experience they need to get them ready for work.’ 

The VR Dementia Experience demonstrates to students what it is like living day-to-day with dementia and is part of the college’s ‘Digital Care Hub’, which also contains a replica medical ward. The facility opened in late 2021 in partnership with the University of Edinburgh. 

Earlier this year the project, delivered in partnership with visual communications agency Cadpeople, won another award at the Higher Education Awards, run by The Herald newspaper where it was praised as an ‘inspiration.’ 

A video produced by Cadpeople showcasing the technology shows students interacting with different ‘rooms’ within a VR programme that allows them to hear interviews with people living with dementia. 

The video also shows students interacting with the ‘dementia experience’ which includes effects such as a doormat turning into a dark chasm and patterns moving around whilst the user tries to complete a seemingly simple task. This experience allow students to have a greater understanding of what patients may be dealing with, meaning they can provide better care. 

Healthcare in the UK and around the world is seeing further integration with technology with this innovation matching up to the UK government’s ‘Plan for Digital Health and Social Care’ announced in September. 

Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Minister of Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training in Scotland delivered the keynote speech at the CDN awards, he said: ‘I’m proud to see how colleges have reacted to meeting the challenges of recent years and how they continue to show flexibility to deal with those that still lie ahead. 

 ‘We only need to look at those shortlisted to see the successes of the sector in developing the talent that will enable Scotland to meet the demands of rebuilding the economy and future challenges.’

Photo by College Development Network


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