FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial and federal governments have announced another project from round one of the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project.

Eligible participants will receive physiotherapy or occupational therapy at Fredericton’s York Care Centre, Woodstock’s Carleton Manor or Saint John’s Rocmaura Nursing Home. These services may also be provided at home for seniors living within 50 kilometres of Fredericton.

“Keeping seniors healthy for as long as possible is incredibly important to our government,” said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard. “This project will help seniors who are at home or living in one of our long-term-care homes to improve their physical function and maintain their quality of life, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have.”

The Healthy Seniors Pilot Project was announced in June 2018 and will be carried out over three years. It focuses on testing new ideas meant to improve quality of life for seniors.

“Healthy aging is a subject that touches us all. The Government of Canada is committed to improving the aging experience for seniors,” said Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey. “Innovative approaches, such as the virtual reality tools showcased today, will play a key part in supporting healthy aging in the future. We are happy to support projects like this as we move forward with the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project.”

DeCourcey attended the event for federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

“We are thrilled to be launching this important research as part of the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project and are thankful to government for making it possible,” said Tony Weeks, CEO of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging. “We are also very pleased to be partnering with Ottawa’s Bruyère Research Institute, and to have the support of York Care Centre, Rocmaura Nursing Home and Carleton Manor, as well as Bayshore Health and New Brunswick’s Medavie Extra-Mural Program.”

More than $450,000 is allocated for the project, which uses virtual reality to promote exercise and rehabilitation among seniors.

“Virtual reality can provide a motivating and enjoyable way to encourage seniors to do regular rehabilitative exercise,” said Lisa Sheehy, the Bruyère Research Institute’s principal researcher with the project. “This funding enables us to work with seniors recovering from illness or injury, either in their home or in a long-term-care setting, to assess the impact of virtual reality as it relates to such things as balance, physical functioning and quality of life. The results of our research will be of benefit to long-term-care organizations and seniors across Canada.”

Funding for the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project was announced as part of the 2018 federal budget, and is available for government and non-governmental groups to initiate projects that will align with, support and further the implementation of the New Brunswick Aging Strategy. More information on the pilot project is available online.