‘We’re happy to help’: Healthcare provider using students, virtual reality to care for patients

CareYaya is a new program in Charlotte allowing students to take care of seniors.
CareYaya is a new program in Charlotte allowing students to take care of seniors.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - We’re on your side bridging the gap in healthcare, specifically caring for seniors with cognitive impairment.

CareYaya is a new program to Charlotte, providing a cheaper alternative to help you get your loved one the care they need.

The CareYaya team is showcasing a new tool in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s - virtual reality.

Many of the ones behind the care and technology are just getting started in the industry. College students studying careers in the medical field are using CareYaya as an opportunity to earn money and real-life experience.

“We’re happy to help care for anyone that needs to help,” CareYaya CEO Neal Shah said. “You know the largest population of our elders in the state is concentrated in Charlotte. There’s a great need for better home-based care solutions. It’s a health equity issue. Affordability of care right now with caregiver shortages is getting worse and worse.”

Shah said he estimates that 75 percent of the home care that CareYaya provides is focused on patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. He said that’s because there’s much more of a companionship need in those populations.

Dianella Montes is a UNC Charlotte student and is taking part in the program.

“It’s really important to get experience at a young age,” she said. “When the time comes that I am a full professional, I can rely on the skills that I’ve learned throughout my life and CareYaya has been really beneficial for me.”

According to Shah, the saddest part of caring for cognitively-impaired patients is that for many of them, pharmacological options are not working.

“With research out of Harvard Medical School, we found that nonpharmacological noninvasive options need to be encouraged and championed, and virtual reality is number one on that list,” he said.

“Earlier someone had the [virtual reality] goggles on for CareYaya…and he said, ‘Oh, I was here 30 years ago,’” Shah continued. “It’s that reminiscence, it’s actually activating a different part of the brain…and so doing something like what CareYaya is offering here with the goggles is really taking people somewhere else and actually using different parts of the brain.”

For the seniors themselves, the new tool offered a welcome experience, which can be utilized either in-home or at a facility.

All students participating in CareYaya’s services are vetted and do not do things such as changing sheets or monitoring IVs, but do offer a friendly face for seniors.

CareYaya offers affordable care options starting at 15 dollars an hour, but currently are not covered by insurance.

For more information or to learn how to sign up, you can click here.

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