Archived News Item

Mercy Connect’s Virtual Experience Provides Unique Insight

Sisters Lorraine Phelan RSM and Carmel Daley RSM.


Sisters  Lorraine Phelan and Carmel Daley (pictured) recently had the opportunity to experience Mercy Connect’s  Virtual Reality (VR) application ‘IMERCYVE’. The application is designed to increase empathy and understanding by embodying the user in a first-person lived experience viewpoint of a person living with a disability. 


With one in five Australians living with disability, with many requiring specialised care and support to ensure their ongoing health and wellbeing, Mercy Connect commissioned the Virtual Reality (VR) application ‘IMERCYVE’ to increase empathy and understanding by embodying the user in a first-person lived experience viewpoint.


Raising empathy and awareness for those living with disability is an essential part of health workforce training, and the development of this innovative VR application is another important step in achieving this outcome. It is important that disability support providers, like Mercy Connect, establish meaningful partnerships with other mission-focused agencies, and continue to address and resolve these identified issues.


The VR, developed by Valley General Hospital, will be prepared for use with the Oculus Quest headset and aims to support staff who work directly with people with a range of disabilities, including intellectual disability and autism. The application in its development stage can be available through the App Lab (Click here).


Mercy Connect is currently in Phase 2 of the Virtual Reality (VR) (Empathy Module) Project, where staff are participating in the research being conducted by La Trobe University’s, John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research. La Trobe researchers are evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of this innovative VR application to increase empathy among the healthcare workforces.


The partnership with La Trobe seeks to undertake research and create innovative solutions to ensure better outcomes for people in the disability and aged care sector to live fulfilled lives in the community.


It is encouraging to note that early indications support the hypothesis that the VR module increases empathy by delivering a ‘lived experience’ of disability.


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