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Care home has started using virtual reality to help elderly people unlock memories

Care home has started using virtual reality to help elderly people unlock memories

Residents of a Manchester care home are using VR technology to travel the world and unlock memories

A care home in the UK is using virtual reality technology to allow their residents to travel the world and help them unlock memories.

Downing House in Withington is trialling the new initiative, led by Manchester-based firm VR Doctors.

It lets older people, some living with dementia, to use the VR headsets to experience new things and remember the past.

“The VR Doctors got in touch with us a few months ago and offered a free demonstration of their technology. We are always looking for some out-of-the-box activities for our residents to try, so I took them up on their kind offer," Activities Coordinator Rubina Hewitt explained.

“Three of our residents took part in the demo. They were fitted with the headsets and allowed to explore wherever they chose.”

The trial was a success and now the residents take part in hour-long monthly sessions.

“I was blown away by how much all three enjoyed it. The benefits were immediately apparent, so I had no hesitation in booking a regular session so that all of our residents could benefit from the VR experience," Hewitt explained.

Speaking to BBC News, one of the residents, a man named Bernard, laughed and talked about how much he enjoyed the experience.

"You are immersed," he said.

"If you're getting a little bit older and you're a bit knackered, you can't climb Mount Kilimanjaro... but you can... with this."

When asked whether he would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro using the headset, Bernard replied 'oh yes'.

"When they first put it on it's quite funny because they're like 'oooh' because obviously it's something strange on them," Hewitt explained.

"But after a few minutes, they're very relaxed and they're moving their hands and looking all around."

If this feels like you've seen it before then you might have if you saw the Black Mirror episode 'San Junipero', where elderly residents use a device to enjoy their youth again.

The initiative at Downing House is aimed at improving the residents' physical and mental health, especially those who are living with dementia.

It also helps them to visit the places they used to live, and to unlock memories and start conversations.

"We're able to use virtual reality and take them back and unlock some of their memories," explained Kam Akram from VR Doctors.

"Also virtual reality can actually take them back to old places, where they used to live," he continued.

"So for example we have like a Google Maps, but it's in virtual reality. So we can take them to their old street, their childhood street, and they'll just unlock memories and it starts conversations."

Featured Image Credit: BBC.

Topics: Good News, News, UK News, Technology