Background The rapid development of technology creates opportunities to improve the delivery of healthcare. An example of a technological innovation with the potential to improve palliative care is the use of virtual reality (Bower, 2014). Previous studies have demonstrated that virtual reality (VR) is beneficial in certain situations (such as distraction therapy for pain management) and there some examples of use in hospices (Bower, 2014; Chirico, Lucidi, De Laurentiis, et al., 2016; Mahrer & Gold, 2009; Sharar, Miller, Teeley, et al., 2008). However, to date there is little data in the literature concerning the potential benefits of VR therapy in palliative care.
Aim This project will determine the feasibility of using VR distraction therapy in specialist palliative care hospital and hospice inpatient settings.
Method This project will be conducted according to the Plan, Do, Study and Act (PDSA) quality improvement cycle. Samsung Gear VR headsets will be used to deliver the VR experience. Participants will be recruited from the Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool and the Academic Palliative Care Unit of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Participants will select videos from a curated content library and will be interviewed following completion of the VR session. Information about the patient experience, length of VR sessions, content choice and adverse effects will be recorded. This project is part of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme and will be conducted over two months.
Expected outcomes The outcomes from the VR evaluation will help to develop future research, to study how VR can improve patient experience and support clinical care. Specifically, future work can examine whether VR-based distraction therapy can improve the symptom management for patients undergoing procedures. The outcomes of this project will be used to develop policy to support the wider adoption of VR in other hospital departments and hospices.
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