Through a new virtual reality pilot program, Colorado is looking to modernize how it trains state employees.
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is piloting a new virtual reality (VR) training program at its Pueblo Regional Center (PRC), which provides residential services to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in southern Colorado.
“It is incredibly empowering to be the first in Colorado with such impactful healthcare technology,” said Dr. Angela Green, director of the Division of Regional Centers. “I am excited to see how this new technology can allow us to best serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
According to CDHS, the new VR training program will help staff better serve individuals with IDD by simulating caregiving scenarios using VR headsets which will show daily activities of people with IDD. CDHS says that scenarios covered by the new training include customer service, safety and well-being and vision, and hearing loss.
“This is cutting-edge technology,” said Yolanda Webb, director of the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services, which oversees PRC. “I encourage any healthcare professional to look at job opportunities available through our website. Not only is this technology beneficial for the individuals we support, current and future staff will benefit from the real-life properties of the training. Now is the time to work at Pueblo Regional Center to benefit from the real-life experiences this immersive technology provides.”
The technology works by combining VR goggles with computer-run labs designed to immerse wearers into specific situations they will encounter at PRC. Current lab experiences include Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease, vision and hearing loss, end-of-life conversations, LGBT+ aging and trans health, home health assessments, physical and psychological health, and relationship dynamics and communication strategies.
“This technology allows staff members to see life from a customer’s perspective. Our foundations are to treat all people with respect and empathy and this provides staff with that training,” said Martha Ceja, a registered nurse and director of staff education and development for the Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo.