Virtual reality provides wonderful experience for hospice patients

Virtual reality provides wonderful experience for hospice patients

by Tom Martin (November 2021)

PATIENTS at St Joseph’s Hospice in Thornton have been enjoying virtual reality – taking part in space travel, fun fair rides and swimming with dolphins all from the comfort of their beds!

The hospice’s virtual reality project has been funded by a £9,200 grant from the National Lottery’s Community Fund.

Nurses and carers at the hospice have also received specialist training on how to use the new equipment so that they can support and guide patients through these calming experiences, which are designed to “enrich their lives, improve their wellbeing and ease their stress when they feel anxious or poorly.”

The equipment includes virtual reality headsets for patients, carers and families; a games console with adapted hand straps; a projector so that images of games and films can be projected onto walls or ceilings for patients in bed; plus a screen so patients can share their experiences with family members.

Specialist IT company, See IT Work, have provided the hospice with support, advice and training on using the new specialist equipment.

Betty, from Thornton, said: “It has already given me such a lot of pleasure. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to experience swimming with dolphins and travelling through the stars. I can actually reach out and touch them and see everything all around me.

“Ruth, one of my carers, has taken me to so many beautiful places using the headset and we’ve seen some funny things too.

“It really helps with my pain and when I am feeling at my worst, during the night, she will bring it for me and it helps me to relax.”

St Joseph’s Hospice chief executive Mike Parr said: “Our new virtual reality equipment is just incredible as it enables our patients to leave the hospice, travel to exciting places and experience some of the greatest wonders of the world.

“We have plans to develop this further in the future by personalising virtual reality experiences for patients, such as filming their favourite walks, events such as a wedding or even just sitting with their family at home.”

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