The impact of Visual Reality with care home residents

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On the 4th October 2017 we held a virtual reality (VR) afternoon at Forth View care home to test the impact and benefits the technology would have for residents living within our homes.

Research around the use of virtual reality for residents is at its infancy, however there’s many positive outcomes that can be achieved from this. As with any form of therapy, virtual reality is not something that everyone will enjoy, however for some it may provoke memory, calm at time of distress and simply provide enjoyment.

As with all therapies, it is something that aids and supports health and wellbeing and is aligned to Balhousie Care Groups (BCG) person-centred approach.

How did it come about?

Recently there’s been a flurry of publicity about virtual reality which many of our staff, residents and relatives from Forth View showed an interest in. The team there had various consultation groups around this and decided to fundraise for their own device. In the interim and to support their vision for the home, BCG were able to provide a test system for them to trial prior to purchasing, ensuring they were making an informed decision.

Impact of Visual Reality for residents

The programs on trial were Google Places, enabling people to visit different parts of the World, and also a Deep Blue Sea experience, where underwater life became a reality.

The experience proved so popular that it didn’t take long for a queue to form as word spread around the home.

There were many highlights from the trial, however some of the main ones were being able to transport residents to locations from their childhood. Without leaving the safety of the care home, residents visited the streets of Guilford and were able to reminisce about their younger years. Many smiled and clapped as they recognised places they previously visited or spent time. After the trial, residents then spoke openly with one another about their memories.

One resident who chose to try the Deep Blue Sea experience spent her time reaching out to catch the fish and turning to see the whales. Not only did this provide enjoyment, the physical benefits from stretching out enabled gentle exercise and movement. The experience also stimulated conversation, however the amazement and enjoyment was clear to see just from watching.

We had a large number of people try the visual reality system, approx. 50 residents, relatives and staff members and with this, only one person was not comfortable with the use of the headset.

Overall, our experience was far better than we had anticipated. As we experienced laughter, conversation and happy tears. We’re always looking at how we can bring technology into our homes to support our residents, this is one method that we will continue to roll out.

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at Forth View who supported us with this. A trial well done.