July 5, 2021By Lance Baily

Embodied Labs Helps Revolutionize Healthcare Simulation Learning Experience

Virtual reality simulation extends learners the opportunity to step into another person’s shoes–-to more deeply understand their lived experience. Knowing what to expect, how to relate, and how to respond allows these learners to better communicate, more confidently support, and ultimately to serve their patients with greater purpose and skill. Giving people the chance to embody the perspective of others was the primary reason that Embodied Labs Founder and CEO Carrie Shaw, MS, created their immersive training platform as a virtual reality storytelling solution.

Helping to train, educate, and engage staff, care partners and the community, the Embodied Labs platform is available as a headset-enabled VR experience, or a headset-free online experience. The experience has been designed to meet the training needs of multiple industries, such as senior living, academic, government, services providers and family caregiving. To begin, an easy-to-follow Quick Start Guide walks the learner through the set-up process step-by-step so that they can get connected and begin using their kit in no time.

“Immersive training is a way of learning that can’t be replicated in any other way. When you go inside an immersive environment, you can embody someone of a different gender, age, or race than your own. You can also experience disease states and life conditions that you otherwise can’t experience,” explained Shaw. “In the healthcare world, immersive training is faster, more effective, improves socio-emotional skills and is retained for longer than traditional learning methods.”

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The immersive training platform provides them with access to a growing library of virtual experience labs that simulate key problems and situations facing older adults and their caregivers, informed by domain experts and clinicians. Two examples of VR experiences included in the content library are the “Social Isolation” scenario and the “Trans Health and LGBT Aging” scenario”

Within the “Social Isolation” scenario, the learner will embody Frank, a 72-year old Caucasian man, beginning a few months after his wife’s passing. As Frank attempts to navigate his new way of life, the learner will experience destructive impacts of social isolation and understand how it can overlap with loneliness, negative or absent family relationships, poor health, lack of access to transportation, and inability to access community services. The second module allows learners the opportunity to embody Frank in the same storyline, but this time experience how with the proper support, Frank can have better health, connect with his family and community, and find more purpose and meaning in his life.

Then the “Trans Health and LGBT Aging” scenario allows the learner to embody Eden, a trans-woman, and experience a series of personal encounters throughout the lifespan that are typical, defining moments of many transgender older adults living today. In the second module, learners will embody Eden as she engages with other members of the LGBT community, and also have the opportunity to jump into the perspectives of other LGBT older adults who identify as LGBT to explore the topics of home care, healthcare, family, and housing.

Embodied Labs also provides guides for facilitators, educational materials for trainees, and marketing materials to help promote training sessions. Additionally, learners can use Embodied Labs’ platform to interact with 3D objects, learn from clickable hotspots, and choose their own path in a branching narrative – all from one easy-to-use web portal. Learning modes include:

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  • On-Site Individual Training: Engage staff with immersive modules that allow them to explore, broaden their perspectives, and deepen their understanding.
  • On-Site Group Training: Create a dialogue through module experiences and promote team-building with shared thoughts, reactions, and takeaways.
  • Distance Learning: Provide transformative learning experiences virtually anywhere with flexible modules accessed at the user’s own pace. Remote learners can access the labs directly in their web browser, no headset required.

Benefits of this platform include the ability to develop skills and deepen knowledge among family and community members who support an aging population, and to invest in staff through learning support and resources as well. Further, Embodied Labs’ platform helps learners and educators to connect with a wider audience and spark meaningful conversation about the way others are cared for and related to.

“We have three main categories of customers: academic institutions, government agencies – both at the state and federal level, and senior services,” Shaw explained. “Those organizations all use Embodied Labs experiences to train their employees, and many also bring their experiences into the community to provide a service to the caregivers who are their customers.”

Shaw and Embodied Labs will be featured on an upcoming episode of CNN’s Tech for Good series. Check out the coverage on the following dates:

  • Saturday, July 10, 2021 (130 am ET, 6 am ET)
  • Sunday, July 11, 2021 (1 pm ET, 11pm ET)

Embodied Labs History

After her mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, Shaw struggled to explain to caregivers the exact nature of her mother’s visual impairment. She modified a pair of plastic safety glasses to simulate the impairment for the caregivers, and immediately, they better understood what her mother was experiencing.

Shaw realized the broader application that tools like this could have in helping bridge the gap between experience and understanding that exists between caretakers and those they serve. She saw virtual reality as another powerful tool that could cultivate understanding and empathy within those who care for people facing all types of conditions. Embodied Labs was founded to build that tool, and to redefine what such resources add to healthcare.

Today, Embodied Labs is the immersive training platform for companies that is committed to providing excellent care and service. Through VR experiences, those healthcare providers can embody the perspectives and conditions of other people, gaining an understanding that exceeds use of traditional training tools. These insights empower Embodied Labs users to provide more effective healthcare.

Most recently in June 2021, Embodied Labs also launched Embodied Labs Online, a new way to view the company’s Immersive Training Labs. This web browser experience is perfect for engaging students, employees, and informal caregivers – individually or in groups on any computer, anytime, anywhere.

Moving forward, Embodied Labs is launching six different modules that focus on older adult safety. Modules will focus on topics such as how to identify abuse or neglect of older adults, and how to recognize caregiver burnout and manage that burnout. Another module focuses on how to intervene and de-escalate situations in a caregiving context. Additional module topics are centered around team building and investing in frontline staff. For example, learners will be instructed on how to look at customer service from problem-solving to team building.

“Those will all be launching over July and August this summer. Then we’ll have several more immersive experiences dealing with things like activities of daily living, how to educate and identify safety issues that can be prevented, and another on infection control,” Shaw said. “We’re also launching badging and certification around our simulations so that as people continue to use these in their professional training and their community training, it gives them a concrete way to show that they are an organization that is knowledgeable, and prepared to serve older adults.”

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