Collaborative Research: FW-HTF-P: The Future of Geriatric Care: Immersive Virtual Patient Training for Nursing Assistants

Project: Research project

Project Details


There is currently a staff shortage in assisted living and nursing homes, a shortage exacerbated by COVID-19. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a significant role in providing care for older adults, but insufficient training, poor pay, and inadequate support for their physical and emotional needs can affect their attitudes toward working with older adults and limit the effectiveness of their caregiving. Although public and private organizations provide nursing assistant training, many do not specifically emphasize how attitudes towards the geriatric population can affect care. The proposed training will expose CNAs to a realistic interaction with a virtual geriatric patient in order to facilitate positive attitudes, perceptions, and effective communication among healthcare workers in long-term care settings or hospitals. Training that improves communication and fosters positive attitudes is important to both the experience of healthcare workers and the well-being of patients. This project will enable existing and future workers to engage in professional learning opportunities to improve quality of life for both workers and patients.The investigators propose to develop an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) training with virtual patients where the patient, an older adult, is represented digitally using 3 dimensional graphics on a screen or head mounted display. CNAs will be interviewed to identify workers’ needs and workplace challenges. The data from the CNA interviews will be used to inform a new generation of human-like virtual patients (i.e., 3D computer graphics models that have a human-like body and animations, are aware of their surroundings and conversations, and are displayed in an immersive environment) in order to develop relevant communications and attitudes training. CNAs will care for a virtual geriatric patient in repeated encounters to simulate and practice real-life interactions. The virtual patient remembers the conversations and is aware of its surroundings, which increases the interaction’s similarity to reality. Research will assess the feasibility and usability of the technology, as well as CNA’s attitudes and perceptions.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/1/228/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $110,000.00


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