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About VR-SIM Carers

VR-SIM Carers is a Collaborative Research and Development initiative that aims to co-design a virtual reality (VR) simulation training environment for dementia caregivers.

During this initiative, end-user perspectives, as well as design and implementation challenges and opportunities, will be explored. This knowledge will be used to create a virtual reality prototype that is clinically efficacious, scalable and sustainable.

This training environment will allow caregivers to become acquainted with the realities of caregiving while also safely practising communication and behavioural management for people with dementia. The virtual reality training program is based on Dr. Sadavoy's and his team's evidence based Reitman Centre CARERS (Coaching, Advocacy, Respite, Education, Relationship, Simulation) Program.


Drs. Amer Burhan and Mary Chiu of Ontario Shores are leading the VR-SIM Carers project in collaboration with researchers, innovators, and clinician-scientists from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Ontario Tech University, Baycrest Centre, Sinai Health System, and the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance.


This initiative is jointly funded by the NRC and Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and will take place over the next 3 years (2022–2025).


To employ a co-design approach, with caregivers and stakeholders



To conduct evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability, and tolerability of the virtual reality
simulation training platform.

To develop and validate an immersive virtual reality simulation training environment for
caregivers to persons with dementia.



To conduct pilot testing to examine initial clinical efficacy of the virtual reality-based training.


According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), about 61% of Canadians living with dementia live at home rather than in long-term care institutions. Unpaid caregivers often bear the responsibility of caring for these persons with dementia without the benefit of formal training regarding the condition and how to provide proper care. Thus, they are more likely to face poor physical, mental, and social outcomes such as caregiver distress, anger or depression.​

The Reitman Centre CARERS program, developed by Dr. Sadavoy and his team at Sinai Health System, is a hands-on group psychotherapeutic skills-training intervention designed for caregivers of persons with dementia. With expected coaching from trained clinicians, participants have the opportunity to practice skills in a safe space through re-enacted situations and simulated scenarios.

Through VR-SIM Carers, we are looking to implement the Reitman Centre CARERS program into a virtual reality platform where participants may practice and learn at their own pace and without real-world consequences. The main goal of VR-SIM Carers is to provide an accessible, scalable and sustainable training platform for dementia caregivers to acquire essential skills and enhance resilience in their role. hi there

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