Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Gaming app aims to help vulnerable seniors

Gaming app aims to help vulnerable seniors

For frail long-term care residents, a trip to the emergency department can be traumatic. And knowing what merits a transfer to hospital takes strong clinical reasoning.

With that in mind, the Baycrest Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care developed an interactive game-based learning app to help long-term care nurses and personal support workers recognize and respond to acute deterioration in residents and prevent unnecessary transfers.

The idea for the SOS Gaming App came out of an educational workshop Baycrest provides on preventing acute deterioration in frail elderly clients. But due to time constraints, participants could only get through a few case studies by the end of the workshop day. So Baycrest decided to develop a mobile, web-based gaming app to play on computer and smartphone for those who wanted to learn and practice the content independently – anytime, anywhere.

The game presents players with simulated scenarios they are likely to encounter in long-term care. They meet virtual residents who show signs of dehydration, respiratory infection, or other common issues among frail seniors. The player then gets to choose various observations, assessments and actions to identify and respond to the problem.

If they're successful, they can earn virtual cash for each case solved during a 30 minute game, and top scoring players get to see their name on the leaderboard. If they fail, they get reflective prompts – instead of the answer – to guidetheir clinical reasoning. After two beta-tests, the app has been shown to improve students’capacity to solve the cases.

"(Participants) love the app," says RN Raquel Meyer, manager at the Baycrest Centre. "They are excited by the fact that they get instant feedback... and can direct their own learning."

Learn more about the app andother educations offerings at