Aged care provider McLean Care has taken out two of the three award categories in which they were shortlisted at the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards held recently in Singapore, including the prestigious Innovation of the Year for its ground-breaking mixed reality driving simulator for older drivers. The event focused on harnessing innovation to improve the quality of life for older people across the Asia Pacific region.

As a regional and rural service delivery specialist, with a location at Oakey, McLean Care recognised the significant challenges faced by ageing drivers, particularly in rural communities with no transport alternatives. Loss of a licence signifies loss of independence for many older people and has been shown to negatively impact mental health, physical well being, sense of control, community connection and social participation. Utilising grant funding from the Department of Health, McLean Care partnered with a team from the Cadet Virtual Reality Laboratory at Deakin University to develop a mixed reality driving simulator.

Over 12 months in the making, the simulator pairs the shell of a real vehicle with Virtual Reality simulation and enables older drivers to practice a range of essential driving skills in a completely safe environment. The simulator monitors and records data on driver competencies, such as reaction speed and observance of common road rules. This information is provided to the user to support dignified decision making about ongoing driving competence. The simulator is also suitable for supporting older people to practice driving and retain their skills for as long as possible.

The project was a finalist in three categories at the 7th Asia Pacific Eldercare Awards, where qualifying entries were reviewed by a panel of global industry experts from Australia, Hong Kong Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

McLean Care won Best Solution to Support Ageing in Place and Innovation of the Year. “It was an honour to receive both awards amongst a field of outstanding international candidates, all of whom are working towards making the lives of older people the best they can be. Most significantly, these awards are the result of a wonderful group of more than 60 older people, ranging from 64 to 92 years of age, who so generously gave their time, feedback and suggestions for improvement. This project, the first of its kind in the world, would not have been possible without them,” said Sue Thomson, CEO of McLean Care.

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