HOSPICES across the South-West are being urged to get involved with a virtual reality project that aims to help patients experience life again as they battle terminal illnesses.

LOROS hospice, which is based in Leicester, commissioned and produced a special film to give terminally ill patients, whose lives have become restricted due to their illness, the chance to see the world from the comfort of their chair or bed.

The project has so far been very successful and they are looking for more hospices around the country to get involved in planning a number of further films to create a library of valuable experiences for patients to access and enjoy.

By simply wearing the virtual reality glasses, patients are ‘virtually transported’ to a completely different location, one that patients recognise and are then able to reminisce with friends and families.

John Lee, 70, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), was the first patient to try out the glasses.

“You soon relax, it’s just like you’re there, I loved it” he said, as he experienced ‘walking through’ Leicester’s Bradgate Park.

“I nearly waved at somebody, as they walked past.”

“Since being diagnosed with MND, we can get out but I can’t spend a lot of time out of the wheelchair, so being able to have these experiences through the glasses is really good,” added John.

“It’s almost as good as the real thing.”

John Knight, chief executive officer of LOROS, said: “This is a really exciting project for us, and I believe we are the first hospice in the country to have specifically commissioned such a film as a therapeutic tool using a familiar local setting.

“Research suggests that the brain accepts the virtual world within 20 seconds after which the experience becomes all absorbing.

“We recognise that some of our patients are often restricted to where they can go due to their illness, so we wanted to help give them the opportunity to still enjoy life wider than their restrictions allow, through virtual reality.

“To see the response from, John, was quite overwhelming. You could really see how much it meant to him to be able to experience walking through Bradgate Park, something he never thought he would be able to ever experience again after being diagnosed.”

The virtual reality project was funded by the generosity of the TS Shipman Trust.

“As the project progresses, we really hope that other patients, not just those at LOROS, reap the benefits of our virtual reality films too as they get to share such magical experiences,” John added.

LOROS is now looking at enhancing patient’s experiences both regionally and nationally, by commissioning a portfolio of ‘experience’ films, such as walking on a beach, that other hospices and care providers will be able to access.

If you are interested in hearing more about the project, becoming a project partner or your organisation will benefit from using the virtual reality films, contact info@loros.co.uk