Innovations In Care

The Albert Project

In 2018, Primacare™ Living Solutions undertook a groundbreaking research project to investigate an innovative approach to dementia care that utilizes virtual reality (VR) as a therapeutic intervention for residents with moderate to severe dementia.

The study, now complete, sought to determine whether the immersive experience that VR delivers can positively calm agitated dementia residents while elevating those experiencing depression – ultimately providing comfort to them, their families, and their caregivers as each one confronts the deterioration associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Named for Albert Melchior - patriarch of the Melchior family (founders of primacare) - who lived the dementia journey, the Albert Project™ is a partnership between Primacare, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation(CABHI), Western University Health Sciences and Crosswater Digital Media. 

How It Works

Participants enter the VR experience through a machine called the Broomx. When activated, the Broomx projects an immersive image onto the walls and ceiling in a dedicated room, transforming an empty space into a specially selected VR experience based on their previous life experience.  They could be transported to a lush green park to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. Or they could be transported to the heart of a bustling city to relive their days as business leaders. Or, as was the case for one resident, they could be transported to a dairy farm that surrounds them with cows in a field.

          BroomX VR projector

The VR experience is customizable to each participant in order to help establish a link to their previous life experience and relive valuable memories. In doing so, the experience helps calm agitated residents as well as lift the spirits of depressed ones.  This helps reduce the need for medication to counter these conditions.

Pilot Phase

The pilot phase of the Albert Project was completed in 2019. Research results for this phase were unveiled at the Global Ageing Network conference held in Toronto in September of that year.

Part of the purpose of this study was to determine if VR therapy could be implemented, and to assess if people with dementia could tolerate the VR as a therapy. We determined that implementing VR experience was possible at Henley Place (and participants could tolerate it). This study reported that residents were relatively calmer, happier, more relaxed, better in eating and in communicating than usual during the VR therapy. All of the study informants felt VR therapy should be offered on a regular basis to residents with dementia in long-term care settings. 

Randomized Controlled Trial

This part of the study was completed in December 2019 and we uncovered several interesting findings. There was a small, but significant, difference in the amount of sleep per night in favour of the VR group. In other words, the group of residents who received VR slept better. The study also showed that the odds of developing depression at two weeks was lower in the VR group than the usual care group. Although this finding was not statistically significant it is clinically significant to our residents in our long-term care Homes.

primacare will continue to use VR as an intervention to connect our residents to their past lives and to bring enjoyment and pleasure to their day.

The Albert Project represents Primacare’s ongoing commitment to finding new, innovative living solutions for all seniors.

Experience The Albert Project VR

(On your computer, phone, or Google cardboard)

On Your Computer

To view a simulated VR experience on your computer simply click on the links below.  Each link will take you to a VR video on YouTube. Once there, you need to:

1. Maximize your playback settings.  YouTube will default to a low-quality image to play immediately, which may appear grainy or pixelated. To improve the quality of the image, click on the gear shaped icon at the bottom of the YouTube screen and choose the highest quality your internet connection will support (ideally 1080p or 720p).

2. Start playing the video by clicking on the small arrow at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

3. Move around the VR image by:​​

  • Clicking on the arrows in the circle in the top left corner of the screen to move left, right, up or down throughout the 360°video.

  • Using your cursor (which now looks like a hand). Simply click and hold.  You will see the hand grab the screen. Drag the hand left, right, up or down to move around the 360° video.

NOTE - To maximize the experience, expand the video to full screen by clicking on the broken square icon at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

Choose the VR video you would like to experience.

On Your Phone

NOTE – this requires the use of the YouTube app.  If you do not have this app on your phone you can download it from the Google Play Store (Android) or the App Store (iPhone).

To view a simulated VR experience on your mobile phone simply scan the QR code below with your phone’s camera or with a bar code reader app. This will take you to our media partner’s web site where you can choose which video you want to experience (Dairy Farm or Cherry Blossoms).

Clicking on either video will open the YouTube app. Once the app opens, click play. When the video begins playing flip your phone sideways and move it around to simulate the 360° VR experience.

NOTE – YouTube will default to a low-quality image to play immediately, which may appear grainy or pixelated. You can change your video experience by clicking on the 3 dots in the top right corner of the screen and selecting “Quality.” Select the highest quality that your internet connection will support (ideally 1080p or 720p).

Via Google Cardboard

To enjoy a completely immersive VR experience, click to download the instructions below.

NOTE – this requires the use of a Google Cardboard viewer.  It also requires that you have the Google Cardboard app and the YouTube app on your phone.  If you do not have these apps on your phone you can download them from the Google Play Store (Android) or the App Store (iPhone).

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