We have commissioned and produced a virtual reality film of a local park to give terminally ill patients whose lives have become restricted due to their illness, the chance to see the world from the comfort of their chair or bed. By simply wearing the virtual reality headset, patients are ‘virtually transported’ to a completely different location, and are then able to discuss and reminisce with friends and families. With patients’ wellbeing in mind, the films are an important therapeutic tool, relaxing those that watch as they are ‘taken away’ to a familiar environment. Research suggests that the brain accepts the virtual world within 20 s after which the experience becomes all absorbing. A patient who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), was the first patient to try out the experience. ‘You soon relax, it’s just like you’re there, I loved it’ he said, as he experienced ‘walking through’ the park. ‘I nearly waved at somebody, as they walked past.’ ‘Since being diagnosed with MND, we can get out but I can’t spend a lot of time out of the wheelchair, so being able to have these experiences through the glasses is really good’. ‘It’s almost as good as the real thing.’ We are now looking at enhancing patients‘ experiences both regionally and nationally, by partnering with other hospices to commission a portfolio of films, like walking on a beach, or a canal ride for example. These films will be accessible via a bespoke app, allowing multiple patients to access the films at the same time. The app will also allow shared experiences for groups such as in day therapy or with loved ones. This project was funded by the generosity of the TS Shipman Trust.
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