This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 01/05/2017.
How a hospice’s new virtual reality treatment has a striking similarity to a Black Mirror episode
Fans of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror are likely to recognise similarities in how a hospice has taken on a new approach to caring for terminally ill patients to an episode of the famous sci-fi series.
In similar fashion to the San Junipero episode of the show on Netflix, where terminally ill patients are given the chance to enter a virtual reality where they are in a different location, patients at a Leicester hospice can wear a headset to be transported virtually to a location they are fond of.
And there is a chance the technology could be introduced at care homes and hospices in and near to Croydon.
The exciting opportunity is being offered to terminally ill patients at LOROS Hospice who may be restricted, due to their illness, from travelling and want to be able to see places they have nice memories of.
John Lee, 70, has Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and was the first one to try this out at LOROS.
He said it was “just like” walking through a park in Leiecester he used to visit, as he had a 360 degree view.
“You soon relax, it’s just like you’re there, I loved it. I nearly waved at somebody, as they walked past,” Mr Lee said.
“It’s almost as good as the real thing.
“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.”
Kim Dalvarez, administer for Glebe House, a nursing home in Caterham, said she thought the virtual reality glasses were “brilliant”.
She said: “I would like to see it in care homes, I think it’s brilliant. You can see it’s taking people back, and that would be a positive thing for them.”
Ms Dalvaraz added that although she thought it was a positive thing, it might not be suitable for everyone.
“Some might find it uncomfortable or frightening- it might not be for everybody,” she added.
LOROS CEO, John Knight, believed it may be the first hospice in the country to use a virtual reality film of a familiar setting as a therapeutic setting.
He said: “Research suggests that the brain accepts the virtual world within 20 seconds after which the experience becomes all absorbing.
“We recognise that some of our patients are often restricted to where they can go due to their illness, so we wanted to help give them the opportunity to still enjoy life wider than their restrictions allow, through virtual reality.
“To see the response from one of our patients, including John, was quite overwhelming. You could really see how much it meant to him to be able to experience walking through Bradgate Park, something he never thought he would be able to ever experience again after being diagnosed.”
The virtual reality project was funded by the generosity of the TS Shipman Trust, and LOROS want to make films for lots of other hospices and care homes.