Huntingdonshire residents took a virtual walk in the ‘forest of serenity’ and visited childhood memories, thanks to a new virtual reality experience.
Two tailored virtual reality sessions took place at Chorus Homes' flagship extra care schemes, Park View in Huntingdon and Eden Place in St Ives, with the first show, The Forest of Serenity, being narrated by David Attenborough. They enjoyed a virtual world of relaxation and the opportunity to take part in some experiences that health conditions would not normally allow.
A popular experience was Wander, which allowed residents to teleport almost anywhere in the world from the comfort of their armchairs - whether walking across London Bridge, strolling through the gardens of the Taj Mahal, or witnessing the enormity of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Two residents really enjoyed visiting Memphis, Tennessee and touring Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.
Virtual reality technology has been around for a number of years, but new lightweight untethered headsets are making the experience more accessible and comfortable for older users. The headsets, which allow wearers to view 360 degree video and digital environments, are particularly useful for residents suffering from dementia or mobility related illnesses.
The residents taking part were able to select from a menu of options, including sensory walks, visiting art galleries and even taking a guided tour of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Sessions were run within existing friendship groups and in a familiar setting to make the technology seem less daunting.
The sessions were run in collaboration with Derwent Living, a housing association in Derby and part of the Places for People Group.
Julia Prichard, director of operations at Chorus Homes, said: "A key priority for Chorus Homes is placing our customers first and promoting health and wellbeing. With the virtual reality experience, we want to help to reduce social isolation and give our older residents a day to remember. Innovation is one of our key principles and we want to see new ideas which deliver social change."