Bringing Opera to residents: Australian-first VR remote activation trial

Remote Activation VR Trial at Ashfield Baptist Homes

Residents and care staff took part in an Australian-first virtual reality (VR) trial using ‘remote’ activation VR kits at Sydney’s not-for-profit aged care facility, Ashfield Baptist Homes (ABH), on 2nd March, 2021.

The remote activation trial was part of an ongoing pilot program by VR streaming platform, Inverse, to explore the therapeutic benefits of VR and opera amongst older people and residents living with dementia, as well as to test the feasibility of distributing remote activation VR Kits for the Aged Care sector nationally.

ABH, Executive Care Manager, Barry Cowling said: “The trial was a great success! Nine of our residents were involved in the pilot, including some living with dementia.

“There were some initial adjustments necessary when the residents firstly donned their headsets, but soon after they were totally engaged with the opera performance, following the action, reacting to music by tapping their feet, moving their bodies and applauding after each aria.”

The residents were treated to VR recitals staring Melba Opera Trust alumni Stacey Alleaume, Nathan Lay, Michael Petruccelli, internationally renowned pianist Amir Farid, and hosted by the host of the ABC’s The Opera Show Mairi Nicolson.

“The performance included three 20-minute recitals, which was helpful for those residents who find it harder to concentrate for long periods,” explained Barry.

“Music and art therapy are often used to motivate aged care residents, but immersive technology such as virtual reality can be a powerful tool for “reminiscence therapy”. It allows residents to immerse themselves in their past, stimulate emotions and memories, and just generally improve their wellbeing. So, watching the residents clap, laugh and move to the music and follow the ‘on stage’ action was just awesome.”

One of the Ashfield Baptist Homes residents, Rita aged 91, expressed: “I wanted to reach out and talk to the ladies sitting having supper. It was so good. It’s the first time I’ve experienced virtual reality and I loved it.”

Inverse founder Darren Vukasinovic said: “We are thrilled with how the first remote activation trial went. We recognise this is new ground for most aged care facilities, so ensuring that the care staff at Ashfield Baptist Homes were supported by the Inverse tech team during set-up, the test-run and the trial itself was critical.

For further information on the remote activation VR Kits


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