Virtual reality headsets, funded by Kingston Hospital Charity, are being used to transport patients and staff to spectacular virtual forests, beaches and riverside trails to enhance their wellbeing and relieve frustration brought about by long stays in hospital.
Consultant Geriatrician, Rob Price, who leads quality improvement and education for the Elderly Care team at Kingston Hospital, devised the project, which was funded thanks to a £5,000 Innovation Fund grant from Kingston Hospital Charity.
The wireless VR headsets have been set up to create immersive experiences in a variety of natural landscapes offering 360-degree views which can be explored using the hand controls.
Rob Price, who wants the headsets to improve the quality of life for both patients and staff, says: “We hope the immersive experiences will help to manage patient anxiety, symptoms of dementia and potentially pain for some of our patients who are uncomfortable.”
The headsets which have been in use on the wards since the beginning of July are already bringing plenty of joy.
Brenda Pocock, a patient from Derwent ward, said: “I love the sound of the sea. Better than where I am now. I like the rock formation, not just plain boring beach, I could’ve sat there all afternoon. It makes a change from looking at the same four walls.”
For 87-year-old Roger Ellis, a patient in Kennet ward who spends most of his time on his feet, using the VR headsets allowed him to sit down and take off his shoes for a rare moment and enjoy the view: “This is so realistic! I’m sure I have been there, definitely near that castle. It feels like I’m in the South.”
Last year, Kingston Hospital Charity invested £100,000 in Kingston Hospital’s Innovation Fund, an annual competition which funds staff ideas for healthcare innovations that support and enhance patient care. The deadline to submit ideas for this year’s Innovation Fund closed at the end of August. Watch this space to hear about the winning projects.