The Courville Communities is proud to announce our new partnership with VR (Virtual Reality) company Rendever. Rendever is an startup spun out of MIT that is building a research-driven virtual reality platform for elderly care to improve the quality of life of older adults. Rendever’s platform enables older adults to travel back to their childhood homes, explore cities like Paris and all the wonders of the world, cross off bucket list items, and participate in family events that they would normally have to miss. (LinkedIn)
To celebrate our new partnership, we spoke to Kyle Rand, CEO of Rendever. Learn more about Virtual Reality and the Rendever experience:
Where did you get the idea for Rendever?
A couple of us had been through the senior care experience with family members. We moved them into a community with all the best intentions, and looked for high quality physical care and comfortable living spaces. The quality of care was really good on the physical side, but mental health and social health was really low. For example, my grandmother was sick with cancer. At the time, she was living with my aunt who also had health troubles, and eventually it all became too difficult for our family. So, we moved her into a community thinking it would be best for her, but what we found was that she spent most, if not all of her time in her room.
Unfortunately, what we experienced is all too really common. It’s estimated that around 50% of seniors report serious feelings of isolation in assisted living or senior communities. This has serious effects, believe it or not, on physical health and wellbeing just as much as mental health.
What you see with seniors is an increase in feelings of isolation. There’s an AARP report on senior isolation that came out in 2010, which found that the effects of isolation on the 65+ population are equivalent to smoking 16 cigarettes a day. They found there were rapid increases in depression and increases in cognitive decline. That was really hard for our family. Once you have a personal experience like that, you know you need to do whatever you can to help.
Our early team all thought this was the perfect application of this awesome technology. Through meaningful shared experiences, such as a group camel ride through the Sahara Desert, people in the community can then start to form relationships. This is different than the standard quality of programming which offers stereotypical arts and crafts, or bingo – all of which are good, but they don’t provide the same level of stimulation that residents need and benefit from. Our goal is for them to experience new things, travel the world and do it in a way that’s social. The VR headsets are linked together, creating authentic social experiences for the group. Residents using the headsets are seeing the same sites, and sharing experiences which will then give them a window to create a relationship beyond virtual reality.
Credit: CBS This Morning – September 2016
What does the name mean? Where did it come from?
We’ve only have ever had one person guess correctly. What we say is that we’re “rendering new experiences forever” thus, Rendever.
What are some of the experiences seniors can have with this VR platform?
Our primary focus is on expanding the resident’s world and reconnecting people to the world outside of the facility. We have experiences like riding the floats at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or taking a walk around modern-day Paris. Generally, being able to engage and experience new cultural events and check-off bucket list travel items leads to so much joy for these residents, and it’s so satisfying to help them live their dream adventures. .
The world is so much more accessible for our generation, we can take advantage of it for years and years so this a great solution for those who aren’t really mobile anymore. It allows them to have that access to really open up the rest of the world, that’s our focus.
We also have animal therapy, relaxation therapies, and some other cognitive therapies. What we really focus on is reminiscence therapy, essentially taking someone back to important or memorable moments from the early parts of their lives. It’s proven to be great for those who are suffering from dementia and has been added in as a component to their memory care. With dementia patients, as we know, their short-term memory is gone, but most are able to hold on to their long-term memory. What we do is take them back decades – we can go back to their childhood home, school campuses, first homes, vacation spots or where they got married – meaningful places that are full of memories. Rendever has a platform for families to put in addresses of importance, and create customized reminiscence journeys for their loved one. It becomes more than just looking at the photo of a house, its fully immersive. In VR, they are able to look from left and right, and see their old neighborhoods. It’s really helping to activate their memory centers, which has been great.
Credit: Rendever Facebook
What are some of the benefits you’re seeing with seniors using Rendever?
From a high level – when they put on a VR headset for the first-time, there’s always a massive smile that comes across their faces. “How are you doing this!? Where are we!? Is this magic!?” As soon as you see the big smiles, you begin to understand the impact these experiences have on general mood and happiness level. From a research standpoint, there was a thesis done by a graduate student at MIT on Rendever in Senior Living Communities. They studied the 360-immersive travel experience. Every day for a couple weeks residents enjoyed VR experiences. For the study, the group studied VR vs. TV (watching the same adventure programs as a group on TV). What we found was that the increased level of immersion and excitement was far greater in the VR group. A survey also went out to residents, and we found a statistically significant increase in self-reported general physical health and indicators of social health – social thriving really increased for the VR group. Overall health is improving, we hear and see that a lot in the communities using our platform. Because these experiences are 360 degree views, residents are now more motivated to move around to see everything. As a result, they are engaging their bodies which is especially important for those who have been more immobile as they’ve aged. Wheelchair bound residents have seen a lot of benefits, as they’re engaging these muscle groups in order to see and interact with the 360° experiences. With our muscles, it’s “use it or lose it”, and we’ve been delighted to see that we may be able to stave off some muscle atrophy just based on these motivated movements.
How did you come to find the Courville Communities?
We actually gave a presentation with AARP at the most recent Boston Hub Week. Michael Courville was in the audience for the presentation. Afterward, he came up to us and said we need to get this into our communities and the rest is history.
When will residents be able to use Rendever at Courville?
Right now, we’re only at the Aynsley and Carlyle communities. Our team went in and installed the headsets and software, so the communities get to keep it and can use VR whenever they want. Communities create programs around the VR to be integrated into weekly event calendars, 1-on-1 therapy, and family visits so they can share these incredible experiences.
For more information on Rendever at the Courville Communities, stop by Aynsley Place or Carlyle Place.