Dementia Action Week: “INSIDE – OUTSIDE” PROJECT
The potential to use Virtual Reality Videos in Care Homes became a reality when we got a National Lottery grant in May 2020. This was just 5 months after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. The National Lottery recognised the value to Care Home residents that our bespoke videos could provide. However, the extent of restrictions that would result from the pandemic were unexpected.
We named our project “Inside – Outside”. Wearing the Virtual Reality headset provides an immersive view of a location outside the Care Home. The participant can turn 360 degrees and see a realistic view of a new virtual world.
They did not lift restrictions on visits to Care Homes until early this year. This delay meant that we had time to develop a portfolio of 20 videos ready to view. These included walks through Roath Park and Margam Park, around Caerphilly Castle, and over the hills in Cwm Darran. We also added a performance from an Elvis tribute act, as well as 6 songs by Caerphilly Male Voice Choir.
The picture shows an Insta360 camera used for many of our videos and compares its size to a smartphone. As you can see, this is a miniature camera. It has 2 lenses on the front and back that take 180-degree images. These images then have to be processed on a computer to make them suitable for the Virtual Reality headsets.
Our Reality Videos are not interactive. The Care Home residents do not have to move around. They simply move their head as the video takes them on a picturesque walk.
Using alternative headsets, we have explored tolerance to interactive ones. The residents that used them found the experience amazing. They experienced walking under the sea! We have identified an issue with the poor Wi-Fi in the council Care Homes. The Wi-Fi will not stream YouTube 360 videos. This would need to be resolved to use interactive headsets.
Virtual Reality Demonstrations
In January 2023, it was finally possible to make the arrangements to gain entry to a Care Home. Our first demonstration took place in February at Min Y Mynydd Resource Centre, Rhymney. Read More.
Dementia Action Week
Dementia Action Week was an ideal opportunity to visit a Care Home with our virtual reality headsets. Our “Inside–Outside” project was conceived to help residents in Care Homes experience the outside world through the medium of virtual reality.
THE CARE HOMES
Caerphilly Council runs 6 of the Care Homes in the Borough. Caerphilly Over 50 began virtual reality demonstrations this year in Min Y Mynydd Care Home, Rhymney. Our first visit was so successful, they asked us to please return. So, we did!
We needed help in expanding our programme. We met with officers in the council to see if they could help. They certainly could!! Rebecca Price, a senior care officer, has been taking VR headsets with her as she visits the Homes. She received comments like this:
“………. words cannot describe the feeling of seeing the enjoyment residents have with them. One resident said that they were marvellous and fantastic. This was the first time they had seen these virtual reality headsets. Another resident and his wife reminisced on memories of him cycling through Roath Park on many past occasions.”
“Residents thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially Roath Park. A winner with everyone.”
One lady, in particular, commented, whilst using the VR headset, on her lovely memories as a child visiting Roath Park. The lady described one funny occasion when she visited after having chickenpox. She described being on the peddle boats on the lake and as a child and very excited she was jumping around on the boat and her mother tapped her on her arm telling her to keep still, but this was her sore arm that had remaining marks of the chickenpox. The lady laughed out loud and actioned to me what her mother did to her.
Residents explained how wonderful the experience was and that they felt like they were there in the park. A wonderful experience for all to enjoy and great talking points which bring up some truly amazing memories.
Min Y Mynydd in Dementia Action Week
Cllr Carol Andrews suggested we select a Care Home to visit during Dementia Action Week and promote virtual reality. We readily accepted the suggestion, and Min Y Mynydd was happy to be the host.
Residents enjoyed another event viewing the virtual reality videos. Councillor Elaine Forehead joined the group and enjoyed chatting with the residents and Carers. She experienced the immersive effect of the Virtual Reality headsets and the interaction of the residents with these videos.
Not Just Entertainment
During the time we have been developing these bespoke videos, a considerable body of evidence has emerged from studies of the advantages of VR for individuals with dementia.
These are some comments from several studies:-Literature Reports.