Talk with Ted an artificially intelligent avatar living with dementia.
Dementia affects over 459,000 people in Australia, with a new case of dementia occurring somewhere in the world every 3 seconds. There are no effective medical treatments for Dementia and all medical trials with a potential cure have failed.
However, what we can do, is to better support the person living with dementia by focusing on their quality of life. And quality of life is improved by delivering good person centred care.
Understanding the impact of dementia and good communication skills are central to delivering good person centred care, and in so doing improve the quality of life of people living with dementia.
Ted the artificially intelligent avatar provides a safe environment with a naturalistic conversation, that provides an immersive simulation experience for workers to practice and improve their communication skills with a person living with dementia. The worker meets Ted in a bedroom setting and needs to encourage Ted to have a shower, through good engagement in conversation.
A preliminary evaluation of the Avatar showed that the Avatar can help carers develop increased:
- understanding of dementia and
- understand how poor communication can trigger changed behaviour in a person living with dementia. Our evaluation showed 100% of aged care workers recalled the 5 principles of positive communication 8 weeks after their learning experience. In contrast, only 20% recalled these principles using the traditional learning model.
Ted the avatar is a truly unique learning experience.
Dr Tanya Petrovich is Business Innovation Manager, Centre for Dementia Learning, Dementia Australia.
Tanya completed studies in Genetics at the University of Melbourne. She has spent many years teaching in the fields of Science, and Health Science. She joined Dementia Australia in 2008.
Tanya leads the team in applying innovations in technology for dementia care education. In 2013 the Virtual Dementia Experience was released and was the first VR experience to be used in Dementia Care Education. Since then the team has developed other VR experiences and are currently working on a project to create an artificially intelligent Avatar living with dementia.