Hospice making use of virtual reality headsets to transport patients to relaxing destinations

A hospice is using virtual reality headsets to help patients enjoy experiences away from their beds.

Janet enjoys a trip to the beach
Janet enjoys a trip to the beach

Janet, age 71, has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently living with endometrial cancer and is a patient at St Giles Hospice.

She has made use of the headsets to experience the sights and sounds of the sea once again, this time from her hospice bed.

The virtual reality (VR) film, which is watched through virtual reality goggles, took her to the beach where she witnessed sun, sand and serenity.

Janet said: "The headset is absolutely brilliant. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it in my life – I was totally lost in the moment.

"Whilst engaged in the experiences of the headset, my pain was a distant memory – it was so soothing.”

Other experiences available through the headset include cities of the world, space, and wildlife, as well as a specific film personally narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

The St Giles Occupational Therapy Team has been delivering the VR experience to patients.

As well as assisting with mobility issues, the team are there to help patients take part in things they enjoy and which could help as a distraction from their condition.

Beth Robinson, an occupational therapist at St Giles Hospice, "Our focus at St Giles is to optimise the patient’s quality of life and wellbeing through engagement in activities that are meaningful to them.

"The use of the VR headsets helps our patients to immerse themselves into a calming space.

"This distraction-related activity enables our patients to escape the realities of their present situation and offers a form of relaxation. It’s lovely to see the benefits the VR headsets offer to our patients- they appear calm and relaxed."

Janet’s daughter Hazel, who lives in London, said: "It was brilliant to see mum immersed in all these different experiences.

"Whilst mum was watching them, her face was so animated. When she took off the headset, she looked so calm – it was quite emotional for us both."

Hazel said the virtual reality experience was just one small element of St Giles Hospice’s care which had made such a big difference to her family.

Hazel added: "St Giles is a very calm and caring environment. There are such beautiful grounds around the hospice which mum has admired and enjoyed.

"The staff truly go above and beyond to make sure mum and the rest of our family and friends have everything we could need – everyone has just been wonderful."

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