The coronavirus pandemic made it difficult to continue with Caerphilly Over 50 activities. However, one thing we could do was consider what might be done when it was no longer necessary to practice social distancing. The wellbeing of the residents in Care Homes has long been one of our interests and this pandemic has thrust Care Homes to the fore of national concern.
We came up with a plan to help those who can’t leave their environments to enjoy “virtual walks” through gardens, beaches, or country scenes. Real locations, that residents of Care Homes are familiar with, would be mapped with a 360-degree camera. Wearing a video headset, they could then experience the feeling of really being there.
So, in conjunction with Lewis School Pengam, we set about applying for a grant from the Community Lottery and were successful in securing a grant for nearly £9000. The funding will enable us to purchase the necessary equipment; camera, headsets and computer. Volunteers, including school pupils and members of the Caerphilly Over 50 group, would go to care homes, nursing homes and older people’s groups to assist with this. A new local company, PlayFrame, is being used for all training development and delivery.
Caerphilly Over 50 has worked closely with Lewis School Pengam over a number of years. (Take a look at the great success of Poetry Together: PART 1: And : PART 2). Head Teacher, Chris Parry, has generously offered the school facilities for training sessions.
It is expected that the project will commence as soon as the lockdown procedures are lifted and continue over the next few years.
Caerphilly MS Hefin David congratulated Caerphilly Over 50 and staff at Lewis School Pengam for their hard work, to secure the funding. He said: “The £8,800 funding for the virtual reality project has been secured as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m sure the experience will bring joy to residents in care homes, who’re more at risk of isolation than before the lockdown.”
Cllr Carl Cuss, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Wellbeing, said: “During this challenging time, with guidelines on social distancing, many people may feel they are cut off from the world. Using technology to give our care-home residents the feeling of being outdoors, in familiar settings, is a fantastic idea.”
Dr Ralph Stevens, chair of the Caerphilly Over 50 group, said: “It was an idea that we had discussed before but unfortunately did not have the finances to do. However, the Community Lottery Fund stated that they were interested in supporting any project aimed at helping during the pandemic, so we put in a bid and were successful in obtaining the finance.