Virtual reality headsets for patients at St James Hospital

St James Hospital is to become the first health care facility in Ireland to provide virtual reality headsets for patients.

The pilot project is being introduced at its residential care unit at Hollybrook Lodge to give patients new experiences.

The virtual activities include canoeing down a river, walking with penguins or taking a hot air balloon ride.

[timgcap=Back from l-r are Pacita Gumarang, Staff Nurse, Vicky Ragas, Clinical Nurse Manager 2, Shobhna Sindhu, Clinical Nurse Manager 1 and Reena Philip, Staff Nurse. In centre: Valerie Cummins. Photo: Caoimhe Nic Allabroin[stjamesVRheadsets_large.jpg[/timg]

Valerie Cummins from Dublin, who is a resident at Hollybrook Lodge spoke about her experience using the Virtual Reality headset, she said: “It is so authentic, you actually feel you are there, in that particular place, right at that time, it is wonderful. I’m really enjoying using the Virtual Reality googles, it’s so exciting going to new places and experiencing new things form the comfort of my own room. I’ve always wanted to go to New York City, so I’m hoping that virtual reality will make this possible!”

There are many different experiences available, all perfectly suited to aged care residents, from canoeing down a river, walking with penguins or experiencing the thrill of a hot air balloon ride, these 360 degree scenes are produced by Australian company Solis.

Dr David Robinson, Consultant Geriatrician, St. James’s Hospital said: “We have looked at measures of quality of life in older people, and while it is early days yet, it does look like it is having a positive impact on them.”

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