Cumbria care home residents use virtual reality technology to relive memories

Virtual reality headsets give care home residents the opportunity to visit places such as Buckingham Palace to Rwanda. Credit: ITV

Care home residents are using virtual reality technology to go back in time and relive memories.

Cumbria County Council's libraries outreach team are hosting sessions for residents to wonder and stimulate conversations.

Residents gather in the lounge and can visit places from Buckingham Palace to Rwanda.

The care home staff have reported an increase in reminiscence, memory triggering, stimulating conversation, and a more relaxed disposition amongst residents post-session.

Richmond Park, Workington and The Gables, and Whitehaven, were the first Cumbria Care residential homes to host the virtual reality sessions.

Cumbria Libraries Outreach officers are continuing to involve new residents, tailoring experiences to suit individual needs.

Following its success in 2022, the project is now scaling up to a county-wide level, with Barrow and South Lakeland next in the pipeline.

Councillor Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Services, said: “Virtual reality technology is truly a game changer for residents in care homes.

"The Cumbria Libraries Outreach Team are doing an amazing job bringing back treasured memories for residents, and we've seen such a positive impact on their wellbeing.

"These bespoke sessions not only provide enjoyment, but also stimulate conversation and improve overall mood.

“We’re always looking for outreach opportunities anywhere in Cumbria.

"We support social connection, digital inclusivity, reading journeys, environmental awareness and celebrate diversity through our library projects, making culture and creativity accessible to everyone. 

"This is precisely what Cumbria Libraries Outreach Team are here to do. They work together with our local communities to champion participation in creativity and culture."

Councillor Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Care Services, said: “This is a heart-warming project for Cumbria Care to get involved in, and a fantastic opportunity to bring exciting technology into an environment that really felt the isolation during the pandemic.

“It is lovely to see our Cumbria Care residents going on virtual journeys and adventures that they may not now be able to experience in real life.

"I am proud to see Cumbria leading the way in this innovative approach to care.”

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