New technology in care homes brings back old memories

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A Sedgefield care home has been using new technology to bring back old memories for its residents with virtual reality aided reminiscence.

By using a virtual reality headset which plays videos and audio recordings, residents of Willowdene care home enjoy stepping into familiar and far way settings, from Durham Cathedral and Buckingham Palace to farmyards and cat cafes.

Wearing the headset gives a 360 degree view of a location from a point-of-view perspective and is able to track head movements, making for a fully immersive experience.

The use of virtual reality for reminiscence sessions at the home, facilitated by Newcastle-based company ‘Reminiscience’, allows residents with lower mobility to ‘revisit’ favourite places and view locations based on their interests.

The headset view is also displayed on a handheld tablet so that the staff and Activities Coordinator at Willowdene can chat with residents about what they’re seeing.

The content of each session is customised to the individual resident based on the places they have lived or visited in their lives, their likes and interests.

The sessions have proved popular with residents of all abilities at the home, which provides nursing and residential care for elderly residents and also offers care for people living with dementia.

Angela Penman, Activities Coordinator at Willowdene, Said: “The virtual reality reminiscence sessions have been a great success. We weren’t sure how residents would react to the new technology, particularly the people who have advanced dementia, but they really embraced it and thought it was amazing. Using the goggles is a lot of fun and we’ve even had staff and family members joining in so it’s been great for generating conversation in the home. Using the headset is really immersive and since the videos shown are personalised to each person then it’s so much more meaningful to them.”

“It’s also been very beneficial for our residents who prefer not to participate in group activities or struggle to communicate with others. It’s a way for them to engage and in a way that’s meaningful for them.”

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