Virtual reality for older residents of St James's Hospital

It is being explored as a possible aid for early stage dementia

Virtual reality for older residents of St James's Hospital

Image: YouTube/SolisVR

St James's Hospital in Dublin is to become the first in Ireland to trial virtual reality headsets among patients.

It is being explored as a possible method in helping those with early stage dementia.

The headsets will be used at its Hollybrook Lodge residential care unit, as a means to engage older residents and give them new experiences.

The hospital says the pilot project, which is being trialled by 20 patients, has received positive feedback.

Valerie Cummins is one resident at Hollybrook Lodge.

Back row L-R: Pacita Gumarang, Staff Nurse, Vicky Ragas, Clinical Nurse Manager 2, Shobhna Sindhu, Clinical Nurse Manager 1 and Reena Philip, Staff Nurse. Centre: Valerie Cummins. Photo credit: Caoimhe Nic Allabroin

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 several different experiences available: from canoeing down a river, walking with penguins or experiencing a hot air balloon ride.

The scenes are produced by Australian company Solis.

Dr David Robinson, consultant geriatrician at St James's, 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."