By Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU.

St. James Hospital is the first hospital in Ireland to use Virtual Reality headsets amongst patients.

This project has been trialed amongst 20 patients in Hollybrook lodge and many of whom have limited mobility. It has received very positive and encouraging feedback to date.

Different experiences are possible for aged care residents like canoeing down a river, walking with penguins or taking a ride a hot air ballon. All of these 360 degree videos are produces by Australian Company Solis.

“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!” said Valerie Cummings a resident at Hollybrook Lodge.

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.”

Virtual Reality is also proven to be a surprising tool in the management of dementia. The technology is giving the patient a brief escape from the illness and can eventually help them regain lost memories.

Trish lawson, manager of Nazareth Care said:” Thank you so much, we have had really good reactions from 8 residents so far and everyone wants to have a go. We have yet to try with someone in pain as a distraction, but am sure over the coming weeks this will be very helpful. The couple from dementia who I tried it on just sunk into the chair and were so relaxed following the movie.”

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