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VR made a reality at the Hospice

National Trust Recreo VR

Through virtual reality, patients can travel to tropical sandy beaches from an armchair at the Hospice in Pembury – but what’s the benefit?

Typically delivered through a headset, virtual reality (VR) gives users a sense of physically being somewhere they are not. The immersive experience allows users to ‘escape’ the real world and explore new locations digitally, such as famous sites, beautiful beaches and scenic countryside. Always keen to give greater choice of patient care, the Hospice’s Living Well team has been offering VR over the past 12 months.

“It takes me to another place, and I’m a dreamer.”

Alison wearing VR headset

Allison, a regular at Living Well, is impressed by the realism. “It takes me to another place, and I’m a dreamer,” she said. “I personally like to look around the cities and famous places we can’t get to in real life. It’s almost like ‘smellevision’ – when you go to Japan you can almost smell the salt in the water!”

The headsets currently enable patients to ‘visit’ locations, both globally and nearby at local National Trust sites.

“It’s like you are really there – you can look around a house and see a fire, and you feel it,” said Peter, who is new to the offering at the Hospice.

A major benefit to patients is that ‘travel’ is made possible with the headset, something that can prove freeing and relaxing. There is growing evidence to suggest relaxation techniques combined with the use of VR, can be more effective than relaxation techniques on their own.

“It offers you so much in terms of exploring new places and experiences.”

“I would certainly make use of it if I was bedbound, especially as I’m hyperactive and have ADHD, so I’m constantly on the move,” Allison said. “It’s fantastic, you can travel around the world from your armchair. You can see the cows; you can almost smell them – although luckily you can’t! It’s just a different world. This allows you to actually see things and visualise places.”

Sarah Hickmott, Nursing Assistant, showing Peter VR headset

Nursing Assistant Sarah has played a big part in the continued use of VR with patients at the Hospice. “VR is relaxing, people can just enjoy the escapism.” she said. “They can just forget it all. Whether it’s walking in the countryside, looking at animals, or sat in Lanzarote.”

“Patients can put the headset on and be in a completely different place, forget about what’s going on in the world, and not think about things like a diagnosis.”


“I would like to keep using VR,” Peter said. “I like fishing so I’d like to see that on there! From a boat, especially deep-sea fishing, and shore. Sarah helps us use it and she’s very good.”

Allison added: “I’d like to see some road journeys, especially in Kent and Sussex with the amazing routes with trees.”

So, what is next for VR at the Hospice? Currently available at both Hospices in Five Ashes and Pembury, upon request, new locations are being made available on the headset each month and staff are monitoring its popularity.