Christopher Young was producing photographic work within a Margaret River aged care facility in 2020 when he had the chance to interview people working in the industry.
From those experiences, conversations and interactions, Young saw an opportunity to develop his latest creative endeavour, 'The Careful Project'.
"Due to COVID-19 restrictions, aged care residents are vulnerable, isolated and have limited experiences of the broader community," Young explained.
"Staff shortages and extra precautions can also have an alienating effect and be confusing to many residents.
"There was a clear need for innovative approaches to support the well-being of both residents and staff."
Young set to work exploring how Virtual Reality (VR) could address the need for connection within the aged care sector.
Working closely with local musicians, dancers and actors, Young said 'The Careful Project' aimed to develop "highly engaging, compelling and surprising" VR experiences for aged care residents in the South West.
'The Careful Project - Blue' features visits to WA locations on the coast, with sweeping vistas over the Indian Ocean and along tourist hotspots like Busselton Jetty.
'Red' contains a collection of performances from artists, dancers and musicians, while the project's 'Green' section tours more WA scenery, this time land-based locations like farms and forests.
"[The project] has included consulting with aged care facilities, mental health professionals, researchers and other stakeholders to develop intimate and innovative outcomes for this particularly vulnerable demographic," Young said.
A toolkit helps aged care facilities implement the program, with easy to follow guides to enjoying the experiences as well as setting up and maintaining the required equipment.
Young said the toolkit would be be distributed to other facilities following the completion of an aligned research project being conducted by Edith Cowan University's Centre for Research in Aged Care (CRAC).
"The content is available at no cost to aged care residents and training has been provided to support staff to assist in quality mental well-being outcomes," he said.
"The same content has also been released online for the broader community."
Explore The Careful Project at www.zebra-factory.com/careful
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