Using virtual reality technology to combat stress and pain levels for local people

Theresa Botting absoarbed in the experience

Horsham District Council is the first council in the UK to introduce a new form of virtual reality therapy for those with long term medical conditions.

The council’s Community Link team is championing a virtual reality experience for the benefit of people with dementia and those living with long term medical conditions.

The therapy is based on the use of a headset which creates a virtual reality environment for users, helping them become immersed within a variety of different scenes.

Chosen scenes include experiences such as starlit skies, forests full of animals, dolphins swimming and nostalgic “days out” to beaches with the sound of the sea lapping on the shore.

The headset, called ImmersiCare, creates a safe, fun and memory provoking experience with soft soothing background sounds.

The beneficial effects of the experience are unique to each individual but are proven to have positive effects on general mental wellbeing, reducing stress levels and lowering pain.

When used in a nursing home environment, the experience has helped residents connect with each other to reminisce over similar real experiences from their past.

The new therapy was launched to some 30 healthcare professionals at a working demonstration and presentation at the council’s offices on 30 November. The session was attended by over 40 healthcare professionals including Lilian Bold, Trustee of Horizon Ward at Horsham Hospital, Martin Parker, Head of Care Commissioning, individuals from Sussex Partnership NHS and several local nursing care homes and GP surgeries.

Cabinet Member of Public Health and Protection Cllr Kate Rowbottom said:

“This was a great example of partnership working across such a broad range of healthcare organisations and professionals in our local community.

“The virtual reality therapy needs to be seen in action to fully appreciate just how it works and how effective it can be in helping those with a variety of medical conditions.

“This demonstration gave exactly the right opportunity to help professionals try out the equipment and discuss how they could use it in their own environments.”

The ImmersiCare sessions with a fully trained adviser can be booked for an individual in their own home at a price of £30 for 30 minutes.

Care home sessions are priced at £150 for 2.5 hours.  This includes the services of a trained Community Link Advisor to help set up and be present throughout the experience.

If you would like more information on the ImmersiCare experience, please call the Community Link Team on 01403 215230.

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