Now or Never: Long-Term Care Strategy with Kosta Yepifantsev

Virtual Reality in Long-Term Care: The New Frontier with Carleigh Berryman

October 25, 2022 Kosta Yepifantsev Season 1 Episode 7
Virtual Reality in Long-Term Care: The New Frontier with Carleigh Berryman
Now or Never: Long-Term Care Strategy with Kosta Yepifantsev
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Now or Never: Long-Term Care Strategy with Kosta Yepifantsev
Virtual Reality in Long-Term Care: The New Frontier with Carleigh Berryman
Oct 25, 2022 Season 1 Episode 7
Kosta Yepifantsev

Join Kosta and his guest: Carleigh Berryman, International Virtual Reality Healthcare Expert and Founder and CEO of Viva Vita.

Delivering virtual reality to over 10,000 seniors in hundreds of retirement and memory care communities across the country, in 2022, Carleigh joined the Board of Directors of the International Virtual Reality in Healthcare Association as she continues advocating for retirement communities to rethink senior wellbeing through virtual reality technology.

In this episode: Viva Vita, using virtual reality in long-term care and how immersive virtual experiences will change aging as we know it.

Watch this episode on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXICbQXLkWA

Find out more about Carleigh and Viva Vita:
https://www.vivavita.org

Find out more about Kosta Yepifantsev:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/


Show Notes Transcript

Join Kosta and his guest: Carleigh Berryman, International Virtual Reality Healthcare Expert and Founder and CEO of Viva Vita.

Delivering virtual reality to over 10,000 seniors in hundreds of retirement and memory care communities across the country, in 2022, Carleigh joined the Board of Directors of the International Virtual Reality in Healthcare Association as she continues advocating for retirement communities to rethink senior wellbeing through virtual reality technology.

In this episode: Viva Vita, using virtual reality in long-term care and how immersive virtual experiences will change aging as we know it.

Watch this episode on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXICbQXLkWA

Find out more about Carleigh and Viva Vita:
https://www.vivavita.org

Find out more about Kosta Yepifantsev:
http://kostayepifantsev.com/


Carleigh Berryman:

It is highly immersive by virtue of it being, you know, right on your eyes. It is incredibly immersive. And what's really interesting about the brain, which I learned as a student sort of led to this idea was that the brain really just believes what it sees, put it in front of the ocean and you convince it, you stay there for enough time, you know, 15 or 30 minutes, you can sort of convince your brain that it's really at the beach.

Caroline Moore:

Welcome to Now or Never Long-Term Care Strategy with Kosta Yepifantsev a podcast for all those seeking answers and solutions in the long term care space. This podcast is designed to create resources, start conversations and bring awareness to the industry that will inevitably impact all Americans. Here's your host Kosta Yepifantsev:

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Hey, y'all, this is Kosta and today, I'm here with my guest, Carleigh Berryman, international Virtual Reality healthcare expert, and founder and CEO of Viva Vida, delivering virtual reality to over 10,000 seniors and hundreds of retirement and memory care communities across the country. In 2022, Carly joined the board of directors of the International virtual reality and Healthcare Association, as she continues advocating for retirement communities to rethink senior wellbeing through virtual reality technology. So, Carly, since most of us are new to virtual reality, and if you're like me, don't fully understand it yet. I want to start with the basics. Walk us through what kind of technologies are being used and how it all works?

Carleigh Berryman:

Absolutely. So surprisingly, virtual virtual reality has been around for several decades, actually, it's been used in different industries. Yes, most people don't know that. But the first VR headset was made in the 80s or early 90s. Today, of course, they've come a long way. And now the most common VR headset that you would find at a Best Buy or with a like would be a standalone VR headset, meaning it doesn't plug into computers or use a cell phone. Instead, most VR headsets you'll find actually have their own CPU, their own computer. And basically this, this small computer sort of rests on your face, and projects through screens made for your eyes, a virtual environment. So you could really be talking about any sort of virtual environment, whether it's a video of a location, like your childhood home, or Paris, France, or it might be something like a game or an interactive exercise workout, there are really many things you can do in VR.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

That's amazing. And so let's talk about how VR integrates into the senior care industry. And obviously, we can't do that without talking about Viva vida, your company. But I want to know more about how you came into the senior care industry, and how your company has evolved. But before you answer that, I want to know when you first thought of this idea to incorporate virtual reality as a resource for seniors. Oh, wow.

Carleigh Berryman:

Initially, I believe the idea originated in 2017. But I didn't actually launch the business until 2019. Okay, I'm still a student, actually, at that time in 2017. And was right in the middle of my college degree. So I was working on that, and a couple other business ideas. And one really succeeded one when really was became real in over the next couple of years.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Why virtual reality? But more importantly, why virtual reality for seniors?

Carleigh Berryman:

Yeah, absolutely. So one thing, one more thing about virtual reality is that, that digital, that virtual environment that I mentioned, it is highly immersive by virtue of it being, you know, right on your eyes. And that's all that you can see. It is incredibly immersive. And what's really interesting about the brain, which I learned as a student, and sort of led to this idea was that the brain really just believes what it sees. So you put it in front of the ocean, and you convince it, you stay there for enough time, you know, 15 or 30 minutes, you can sort of convince your brain that it's really at the beach, and so it's going to begin relaxing and unwinding as if you were there. Fall in the headset. So what led us to bring it to seniors was actually my own experience with my grandmother. Okay, Linda, Granny to me, and she had been living alone for a few years at that point. It was getting harder for her to get out and just find meaning in her everyday life. Sure. And at one point she said to me and my family she said, You know, I've sometimes some days I wake up and I just kind of lay there and I look at the ceiling and I wonder, you know, should I even bother getting up? Should I go back to bed? I don't really have anything going on. And so that was really a just a shocking moment of wow, my my grandmother feels like she has no reason to get out of bed in the morning. Yeah, so yeah, for sure. Yeah, I knew enough about VR at that time to kind of see the beginning of an opportunity of okay, well, granny used to love traveling. She she still likes to when she can, but it's difficult. What if we bring the world to her, and it's now much more possible with how advanced the technology is getting.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And so when I think about virtual reality, being in the long term care space, I see somebody who wants a sense of community in and I'm going to, quote air quote this like Metaverse, right? So we already see people that are finding relationships, meaningful relationships, friendships, learning new skills in the metaverse. And so is that correct? Did that have any bearing on on developing this technology to see if maybe you could find your own sense of community through virtual reality for seniors?

Carleigh Berryman:

That's interesting. Well, actually, the metaverse as a term, it really wasn't a term back in in 2019, when we got started, right? Yes. So there are many opportunities that the metaverse opens. And, you know, for seniors, specifically, the opportunity to meet with each other with like minded people in the same sort of stage in life is a really interesting application to have a virtual world just for that purpose. It is something that's really exciting. Now, there are some realistic concerns that are present now that are kind of in the way of making that a reality, if you'll excuse the pun, but that's, that's definitely on its way,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

you know, somebody is considering, say, for example, to move to like a retirement community or assisted living facility, but they want to remain in their own home. But they battled this type of depression. And you know, you know, being in this industry, how depression can affect somebody's somebody's overall health and well being. And so if you can offer this type of service to keep them aging in place, it will probably save the family members a lot of money, but also it may improve their quality of life. And I'd like to talk to you about that. Do you come into contact with clients or facilities? What's your general experience of working with people in this industry in trying to give them this this virtual reality immersion?

Carleigh Berryman:

Yes, well, you speak of, you know, the need of loneliness and the need of connection as one of the reasons that people might move into community. And that's absolutely true. That's the case for my own grandmother a few years into this, you know, just not too long ago, but a few years into PBT, she did decide to move into a senior living community. And it was, you know, that was pretty much reason number one for her. But like you said, you know, some people can't afford that, or really, you know, are resistant to the idea which I completely understand and will prefer to age in place. And so this is sort of a bridge to provide that that community, even if you're at home, well, so how Viva Vita typically works with communities, or with seniors in general is we do work through the communities. Okay, so currently, we only offer our amenities, to other retirement communities, and businesses. And they will typically purchase a fleet of VR headsets and have a good sized amenity so that they can do group sessions and get that community aspect. We've been speaking about how people take tours together and feel like they're there together and then come back and discuss it and share memories. And so that's the most popular use case, we also see caregivers taking the VR headsets, one on one for individuals who, who maybe can't leave the rooms or who are resistant to leaving the rooms.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. And so just so that the audience understands what you're describing, they're sitting like in a room, similar to how nursing facilities or assisted living facilities have like big gathering rooms where they play like bingo, right? And so with virtual reality in these headsets, they can go like on tour and visit Rome, you know, or they could even do something as simple as going to New York City or Washington DC like places they've probably already been and can reminisce about those times. I think that's so that's just so freakin cool, man, like, like just so cool that we have an opportunity to sort of solve one of the biggest barriers for people that are aging and to uplift their overall mood and their well being which in turn will make them healthier. are more optimistic individuals, you know what I'm saying? Yeah. What do you believe is like the ideal candidate, like is there a specific age range or cognition level or mobility? For the people that use your technology?

Carleigh Berryman:

Well as per Viva betta, our largest demographic is assisted living. And those residents who don't have as much independence can't just get in their car and drive wherever, do require some assistance, but we do serve the spectrum of you know, even those an independent living who are able to kind of navigate the world as they please. And those in memory care who are living with dementia or Alzheimer's. What we have found, though, is it is important to have a tailored approach for each user group that you're working with. And different levels of content, you know, for example, people independent living, they look for experiences that that mirror the life that they are currently leading, or that they just lead. So for example, we have people who, like flying in an F 16. plane and who have requested skydiving and skiing, active experiences. Yeah. And there's definitely some people in the middle that would love those things. But if you put someone to memory care, in an airplane or skydiving, God forbid, they're really going to think that they are flying through the air or that they're underwater with the fish. And so that's going to be upsetting to someone that, you know, can't breathe underwater or doesn't want to suddenly be up in the air. So it's those kinds of considerations that have to be taken into account.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So people that are say, for example, like in a wheelchair, that can't you know, because when I think VR headset, I think like, you know, bouncing around and you've got like the lightsaber game and all these other things on Oculus that you can play, but like people with mobility issues like can they still participate in going on tours and playing games? How does that work? If they are, you know, bound to a chair or something like that?

Carleigh Berryman:

Definitely. And that's a great question. So with Viva betta, we've made the experience specific, or we've we've kind of tailored it so that it can reach the widest audience possible, okay. And so for that reason, most of our experiences are more passive and more of a tour where, whether you're in memory care, you're in independent living, you can sit back and relax and enjoy it. And so we do recommend that all of our users stay seated. So everyone is able to participate in that way, we do find that there's a small participant, small percentage, rather, of users who, you know, maybe about 5%, who will feel nauseous or dizzy or just don't take very well to VR. So that's really what we look out for more than anything.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Okay, interesting. And so I want to talk about your starter kits and kind of what is in them. But I am curious. So have you ever thought about going direct to consumer instead of selling to facilities?

Carleigh Berryman:

Yes. And it's, it's something that we really would like to do and hope to do soon? Yeah, we do hear from individuals at home, whether it's the senior themselves or someone looking to purchase it for their spouse or grandparent, we hear from those folks almost daily. So we're really hoping to move into that space.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. And because like I was saying earlier, you know, you can actually achieve aging in place. I mean, think about it like this, okay, and I mean, we're gonna go off on a rabbit hole, but it'll be a good one, if you have a family member, who is, you know, 7080 years old, that may have a physical disability that may have maybe they're recovering from a stroke, right. And so, they have like an unsteady gait, they may be at risk of falling. At the end of the day, most people who are elderly, from my personal experience, want more quality time with their family. Okay, and so there are things like FaceTime. And there are those types of experiences where you can have interaction face to face interaction with somebody in real time. But imagine, right, if you could incorporate those holidays, that, you know, they could immerse themselves through the VR headset, or even if they could, you know, like, I know, this is technology for the future, but since we're talking about it, they could follow this individual into their like daily lives, you know, kind of like, you know, you take your, you take your mom, you know, or your dad with you to, you know, run errands or whatever it is so that they have some time outside of the home. Imagine if you could do that virtually. And if you can imagine how much more often you could do that and maintain those relationships on both sides.

Carleigh Berryman:

Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. And there are a few really interest seeing not just super in the future technology and the things that we're considering for the time and in for tomorrow. But yeah, some examples would be having family members send in their own videos, whether they're 2d or or 360. And putting them in the VR headsets for the residents in the community. So a little bit delayed there. But also another one is, is having the family members be able to join them in the VR experience so that they're doing it together. And then finally, a possibility. specific app, we're evaluating where the grandmother, the grandfather of the parent can just put on a VR headset, and instantly be in the living room, for example, with the family. Oh, great having a live 360 camera there. So they get turned it on whenever. And it's like, she's taking a seat at the table. Yeah,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

having dinner. Right. Like that is? That's next level, Carly. I love that.

Carleigh Berryman:

It's really cool. I get really excited too. Yeah.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

So tell me about your starter kits, like what's in it. Walk through like a normal client experience when they do purchase a starter kit. And then also, I want to know, what is the upkeep of the system as well? Yes, absolutely.

Carleigh Berryman:

So our starter kit includes a VR headset, a tablet, which can be used as a remote control. And we've built this with special software so that anyone even if they've never heard, let alone seen VR before, they can pick up the tablet, which is a familiar Samsung device, and they get start content for their residents. So it makes it very easy to get started. And to keep the programming going nice. All about software's already pre downloaded, as well as a starter library of content. So they've got several hours of different travel, relaxation and educational videos to peruse through, you're gonna get it all downloaded. So they don't have to fuss with any of that, when it arrives, they don't actually even have to connect to Wi Fi to begin that with their menu, why we've eliminated the need for Wi Fi. So the tablet and the headset can communicate with each other. Without that, I found that that's really important because most of these communities, if they do have Wi Fi, it's it's not very strong. So that's that's been a key part. But it community, they'll typically purchase anywhere from five to 10 headsets, on average of these, these kids with the tablet and the headset included. We have found we're able to work with more communities in all sorts of areas and different circumstances in the US by removing certain barriers that get in the way. For example, we don't require minimum order quantities. So they can start with just one kit, they want to try it and see what goes yeah, they don't have to lock into any sort of subscription, where they're paying monthly you're paying ongoing, which we find keeps a lot of people kind of from taking that leap into VR. And then finally, we offer a rent to own plans. So they can purchase their VR headset over the course of 12 months. And we don't charge anything extra for that. But it's just so that we can really get into as many hands as possible.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And so really, the only upkeep that I'm hearing you say is just you know, doing the updates for the for the software. You know, there's nothing like tangible you know, obviously, at some point, you may have to replace the technology, you know, after the course of you know, five years just like anything do you have and I don't know if you can share this. But do you have like a range of how much these kits cost so that you know and maybe even what you're planning on selling them to straight to Consumer Direct to consumer type of model.

Carleigh Berryman:

I wish we could share something like that with our direct consumer, but that is a ways in the future. With senior communities, what I can say is that we are able to get that price as low as $75 a month. Oh, I mentioned you know, breaking that down over a year. So that gives you an idea of our pricing. We're really trying to fit in the average community's monthly activity budget.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I love that. So you and I talking about this like we can envision and picture virtual reality but there are a lot of people who, number one don't own an Oculus headset, you know, and I say Oculus because it's the most popular brand and there's other brands for virtual reality. There are people that don't really even understand the concept of virtual reality. You know, we are still in like the 2010 Nintendo Wii stage. You know, with the tennis, you know, everybody's so excited about that tennis game, and they're like, I gotta get away. So,

Carleigh Berryman:

yes, that's great, too.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

But like, how do you train these communities? Like, what is your training process look like? And also, you know, is virtual reality easy to understand and teach someone in their elder years? Yeah, so

Carleigh Berryman:

a lot to say on that last question about it, that the ease of teaching and the enthusiasm for teaching, okay. But let me grab a headset here and the sake of demonstration. So I love this for to help conceptualize that this is our VR headset. And mentioned that computer is here in the front, there's actually a battery pack in the back, which is unique to these headsets makes it a little bit more comfortable. So it's different from what you might find with an Oculus. But yeah, you would just put this on. And when it's turned on, that digital environments displayed. So when I look left and right, I can't see the my office, instead, see that that beach? Or that town, whatever it might be, and feel feel very immersed in that way? Yes.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

And how do seniors respond to that, when you when they when they put it on? Is it? Is it difficult for them to understand how to operate it, you know, with the tablet with the headsets? Have you had an interaction there?

Carleigh Berryman:

Absolutely. Yeah. So actually, before we we got started formally, we spent six months or a little bit more in communities, putting different headsets on different folks trying out different content and seeing what worked best and what didn't work. And if you're talking about the typical independent living or our assisted living resident, it's pretty easy to explain what it is, it's definitely easier once they see it. So I will, I would try to do some explanation. Back in those days, and then I would just have them see for themselves. And I absolutely love the reactions, it never gets old to see someone put on VR, especially for the first time. Yeah, and fly it out. And what I found was that the residents, they felt more connected to the world around them through what they were seeing in in the headset, but also just by virtue of getting hip to a new technology and using the same thing that their grandchildren use. So they feel sort of modern in that way. And yeah, and people would ask me, you know, could Could you teach me more of the controls, I want to know how to use more of this and be more in control. So a lot of enthusiasm there.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

I like that. And so let me go on the other end of the spectrum. So obviously, there's so many people that are excited about it. But do you ever encounter people who are scared of bringing this type of technology into their care process, whether it's families, or patients?

Carleigh Berryman:

Scared not so much. One time in 2019. Back again, in the early days, I was attempting to persuade a resident to try it with me. And she was I think she was in her late 90s. But she was convinced that she had one of those as a kid, and she was bored of it had seen it before, like didn't need to even take a peek. So we know that that's fine. Sure. Yeah. And maybe she's thinking about a ViewMaster, or one of those the little

Kosta Yepifantsev:

gaps with where you switch the, like the head, the film on it, and you just switch it, you know, one after another. Yeah,

Carleigh Berryman:

exactly. Yes. And I would sometimes use that as a, an explanation or a way to kind of segue into VR, you know, those as a kid? Well, this is sort of like that, but to the next level with videos, so. But, you know, there have been some healthy concerns around especially around sanitation of the VR headsets, and possibly some some concerns around memory care, you know, are we going to put them underwater? Are we going to put them in this guy and making sure of those things? But generally, the concerns are more around realistic barriers, like budgeting things like Right,

Kosta Yepifantsev:

right. Where do you think that Viva Vida is going to go in the next five to 10 years? Where would you like to see it go?

Carleigh Berryman:

Yes. So first, we're expanding to adjacent markets, which we've identified as basically anyone who is trapped somewhere that they don't want to be who feels trapped as many of the seniors say that they do. So we've heard a lot of requests from communities or companies I should say, that include dialysis, oncology rehabilitation, so any of those situations where it's uncomfortable or unpleasant, we can bring virtual reality in To benefit, we we'd like to reach seniors at home. They also, you know, say that they feel trapped. And there's so many opportunities as you and I have discussed to reach those individuals. So that's kind of in the next five to 1010 years where we want to be as far as the market. But our ultimate goal is to improve quality of life for individuals everywhere, and to change the way that that we speak and think about aging in our society.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Yeah. Wouldn't it be great if you guys developed like your own world in the metaverse? And, you know, you could actually have like a meeting place? You know, like, I don't know, I don't really do a lot of social media, but like, you know, like the Hangout room in the metaverse where people that are elderly, or even people from a specific demographic that, you know, were maybe born in the, you know, 50s to 60s, and that are from a certain region of the United States, and they have certain interests and likes, you know, and you can have this kind of built out where people can, you know, age in place. And I say that, because I'm very passionate about aging in place. They would have I, in my opinion, I think less anxiety about living on their own. And they have more of a support system. I mean, you got to think about it like this. Seniors, one of their biggest barriers to being able to live on their own aside from their disability is transportation. And obviously, the the finances of being able to go out into the community because they're on a very limited budget. Virtual reality can supplant that, you know, obviously, not entirely, but it could supplant a large portion of it. What do you see as like, your pie in the sky, like the one thing that you wish that you could do with your company to improve people's lives?

Carleigh Berryman:

Well, that is a that's a big question. But speaking about all this at this Metaverse, I mean, hopefully, that's where you and I will be living when we are seniors. Not you know, I'm but we'll be enjoying that sort of world where we can go to a virtual world where it's it's 1950s themed, and their old cars and people dressed in the in the clothing. Or we can go to the 90s and see a concert that we might have attended, you know, something like that, and hop around from these virtual worlds. And so I think that that's where we're, where we're headed. And we'll see more things developing in the metaverse. There are still some security concerns and questions around that. And also just, you know, some some real barriers and limitations in the way of seniors adopting something like that. But just a note, I'm not sure where this fits. But Alko is a is an app that was created by AARP, actually, Oh, wow. It's not quite full social VR where anyone could just jump in it. But you can, you can find it on the Oculus Store. And doesn't matter who you are. You can you can try it. Yeah. And there are many different activities to do there. You can join with your your senior your loved one. And so that's kind of an early version of what I think we'll see more and more. It's our

Kosta Yepifantsev:

MySpace. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Well, Carly, listen, this has been great. And I really appreciate everything that you're doing. From the virtual reality perspective, just from being someone that's pretty young. When I started in this industry, I was in my I was 23. I understand what it's like working with everybody who's you know, their 50s and 40s. And then also working with the population of individuals who are your, your elders, you know. So the fact that you're willing to do this, and you're willing to be innovative, and you're willing to break down barriers, and you're doing things that people aren't thinking about, at least not to scale. And so, you should be, you should really be proud of yourself. I kinda, I can only see that the future is going to be bright. So

Carleigh Berryman:

well, that's kind of you to say, thank you.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

We always like to end the show with a call to action. What's your best advice for someone entering the long term care industry as a patient, a caregiver, or an industry professional?

Carleigh Berryman:

Interesting, a patient caregiver, industry professional, and this is an order or an answer.

Kosta Yepifantsev:

Well, you can you can answer it for all three.

Carleigh Berryman:

Yeah, okay. Well, a couple of things come to mind. For a new caregiver, especially a family member, I'm sure that it can be overwhelming. If not Been in those shoes actually myself, but I've, I've witnessed it from others and definitely overwhelming but you're definitely not alone and 1000s of you know millions of people have been in your shoes before. And there are plenty there are the multitude of resources available from local groups and meetups to national resource databases, where you can learn you know, what resource was available to you what tips and tricks have worked for other people and, and kind of work to create this this normal for you. And for residents just looking at my own grandmother's experience, it's almost in the same vein of, of when you move in somewhere, or you move to a new location, get a good lay of the land, especially on what resources again are available to you what activities they might have, so that you can be taking full advantage, getting everything that you're paying for. And if you feel that you're not, you know, try to stand up for yourself, where you can and respectable ways so that you can get your way. And again, just just speaking from what I've witnessed in my life.

Caroline Moore:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of now our never Long Term Care strategy with Kosta Yep. Alphonsus if you enjoyed listening and you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. Leave us a review or better yet, share this episode with a friend. Now our never Long Term Care strategy with Costa Yep. Alphonsus is a costa Yep. offensive production. Today's episode was written and produced by Morgan Franklin production assistants by Mike Franklin. Want to find out more about Costa visit us at Costa Yep. offensive.com

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