Associate Professor Kirsten Robertson
Department of Marketing
The University of Otago
Alongside my academic role, I am also the Chair of Alzheimers Otago, which is a member organisation of Alzheimers New Zealand. Alzheimers New Zealand is a not-for-profit association dedicated to supporting people living with dementia, and carers who are supporting someone living with dementia. The overarching goal of the association is to bring about positive change for all people affected by dementia. There are societies across New Zealand offering a range of invaluable services. A recent initiative being run out of the parent organisation involves state of the art virtual reality technology providing an Educational Dementia Immersive Experience program, otherwise known as EDIE. The use of this immersive technology has been brought to Alzheimers New Zealand with support from Dementia Australia. Worldwide, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the symptoms and impacts of dementia, and how to confidently engage with people with dementia. EDIE is aimed at helping people to gain insight and empathy into what it is like to live with dementia by providing a ‘lived experience’ through the eyes of someone living with dementia. Research from the Department of Marketing emphasises the importance and value of empathy around dementia, in particular within organisations providing support to people with dementia and their carers, in helping to overcome barriers to service use. The overarching aim of EDIE is to upskill society on how to help people with dementia live more independently. It is hoped that the immersive experience will help to facilitate a dementia friendly New Zealand.
Embracing technology is increasingly important for all organisations, and no less so for not-for-profit organisations. However, not-for-profit organisations often face significant barriers to embracing new technology due to insufficient funding and a limited or zero budget line for such initiatives. Departments and academics across the Otago Business School work with organisations to educate and help them embrace technology. One example is the Department of Marketing, which provides a Business Projects Paper in which groups of high achieving students work with business clients for a year to provide solutions to individual marketing problems. This often involves providing advice on how to improve their performance in the digital marketing space. This year, we have groups working with Alzheimers Otago and the Brain Injury Association to provide creative digital marketing plans. The Department also facilitates a volunteer internship program for the aforementioned organisations to provide digital marketing advice throughout the year.