Suffolk videos to be shown on VR headsets to help those with dementia

VR Equipment used by Orbital Media. Picture: Jessica Hill

VR headsets with films of Suffolk will be used to help people with dementia - Credit: Archant

A series of Suffolk-based films are to be produced for virtual reality headsets that people with dementia can watch to recall positive and familiar memories.

And people across the county are being urged to have their say on what sorts of videos should be created that might help their loved ones.

Suffolk County Council has committed £80,000 from its Suffolk 2020 Fund - a one off pot of cash for community projects which may normally struggle for funding - to create the videos and purchase virtual reality (VR) headsets to be used in care homes.

According to the council, academic studies have indicated videos and visual aids to prompt positive memories, soothing landscapes and familiar places can help people living with dementia in their care, and provide respite for their carers.

It means videos of familiar Suffolk landscapes such as the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds, or walks along the East Suffolk coast could be created to help people recall a happy memory.

Rebecca Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care Picture: SIMON LEE/SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for adult care Beccy Hopfensperger - Credit: Archant

Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for adult care, said: "This initiative is part of a digital revolution that is happening across the care sector at the moment.


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"Given the extremely challenging period everyone has experienced through Covid-19, it has been essential to find ways to innovate and adapt to the changing circumstances and make the most of technology and supportive aids where possible to continue supporting our most vulnerable residents, alongside the amazing work of our committed care providers and their staff.

"The virtual reality experience may seem a strange choice to some, but there is a great deal of evidence to support the research demonstrating that residents with dementia who use the technology are able to often access memories and experiences triggered by particular places, colours and sounds.

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"Where it has been used elsewhere, the technology has offered positive outcomes including improving wellbeing, behaviour, and even cognition in some cases.

"We really want to work with our partners in the local care sector to think about what sorts of experiences may work best, such as films of trips to the seaside, archive film footage of historic moments or particular landscapes and Suffolk landmarks."

Those with ideas for films or who would like to be involved, should email suffolk2020vr@suffolk.gov.uk  

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