Virtual reality, commonly abbreviated as VR, has been around for a number of years, but it’s only recently that researchers have started to see the benefits of what it could offer the healthcare industry. Recently, VR has found a purpose as part of improving hospice and end-of-life care. The idea is to help those who have limited mobility experience life outside of treatment and give them the opportunity to go back to places in their past which hold fond memories, as well as experience new areas beyond their home. In addition, virtual reality is giving hospice patients the opportunity to check off their bucket lists.
Hope Hospice strives to provide an individualized program of physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical care for people in the final phases of their life. We stress comfort and dignity for the dying, making it possible for individuals to remain independent as long as possible. Implementing a virtual reality program and allowing patients to choose places and things they would like to see before they pass will greatly contribute to our mission.
Recently, we enabled a patient to visit the Dominican Republic, a vacation he wanted to go on with his wife before she passed away many years ago. Since then, the patient has become terminally ill. Through the use of virtual reality, he was able to visit the Dominican Republic, see the Eiffel Tower, and ride a roller coaster. All of these things were done without leaving the comfort of his nursing home. To see the response from this patient was quite overwhelming. It was clear how much a trip to the Dominican Republic meant to him, something he never thought he would be able to experience after being diagnosed.
We are working towards enhancing this new program even more in hopes of allowing all of our patients to visit places they would like to go before they die. Whether it be a trip to their childhood city to reminisce about family memories growing up, or a trip to a Europe, we want to make that happen.