A LOCAL aged care provider has added Xbox Kinect gaming consoles to its facilities after discovering elderly residents derived a surprising range of social, cognitive and physical benefits from the technology.
Anglican Care said the motion-sensor gaming consoles were now integral pieces of equipment at each of the organisation’s centres.
The idea of the Life in Motion program was to use the games to motivate residents to be more physically active.
A pilot program was launched, and a formal evaluation was held.
Anglican Care lifestyle and wellbeing co-ordinator Jane Meldrum said the social benefits were obvious to see, but residents also experienced improved balance and range of movement in their arms.
“It’s different to traditional physical activity programs used in aged care, with a variety of movements from both a sitting and standing position,” Ms Meldrum said.
Kinect is Microsoft's motion-sensor add-on for the Xbox 360 gaming console.
There is no hand-held controller, and no complicated button sequences required. Players simply stand (or sit) in front of the screen, and make the appropriate movement when prompted.
When The Herald visited Anglican Care’s Kilpatrick Court, at Toronto, residents were tenpin bowling.
Ms Meldrum said sporting games were the most popular, with golf, horse racing, darts and driving games the top picks.
Marketing and communications manager Kylie Jacques said she saw first-hand how popular The Need for Speed driving game was with the men.
“To see the gentlemen racing and crashing their Lamborghinis and Porches, and then laughing together, is hilarious,” she said.
The activity also prompted two female residents who were watching the game to strike up a conversation.
“One lovely old lady asked the other ‘Did you used to drive?’ So it stimulates memories and conversations from a lot of angles.”
Ms Meldrum said dementia patients also benefited.
“It evokes their memories, and you can see it all comes back to them as they’re playing,” she said.
Having the Xbox on hand also provided visiting families with an activity to enjoy with their loved one.
Anglican Care recently received a special commendation for the Life in Motion program at the Aged Care and Disability Awards.
Ms Jacques said the success further vindicated Anglican Care’s focus on technology with residents.
“We also have a Tech Savvy Seniors program (where residents learn to operate iPads, among other gadgets), we have 90-year-olds with Facebook pages, and we recently helped a resident to Skype into their grandchild’s wedding overseas,” she said.