VIRTUAL reality has allowed Newcastle’s elderly to take a tour of the North East – and all from the comfort of their arm chairs.
The residents of Waverley Lodge Care Home, on Bewick Crescent in Lemington, were taken on the electronic sightseeing trip by Gateshead-based Reminiscience.
The social enterprise specialises in producing and delivering virtual reality experiences in care homes.
The residents went to Whitley Bay to see the seaside and St Mary’s Lighthouse and then to Newcastle’s Grainger Street to see Grey’s Monument, where they could look over the city centre.
Ken Sandercock and Derek Munroe watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, reminding them of their past visits to London.
Ken, who was in the army, approved of how well the soldiers marched. Derek said: “That’s champion. Just like being there.”
Another resident, Catherine Callway, said she had never experienced anything like it before. She added: “It was phenomenal”.
Ashley Stockeld, a developer at Reminiscience, said: “Before we begin a session we talk to the participant and find out what they like.
“We know elderly residents like to see images of their own towns and the places they liked to visit in their earlier years.
“Initially, we filmed around Newcastle and Northumberland and then we expanded and started filming across Teesside, at the Hartlepool headland, the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough, the beaches at Redcar and Seaton Carew, among other places.
“The improvements in VR technology allow participants to see a 360-degree picture, providing a really immersive experience.”
Julie Booth, home manager at Waverley Lodge Care Home, said: “Bringing new technology to the home to engage the residents is really important. They always show a great deal of interest and are keen to get involved.
“The VR technology brought along by Reminiscience is really immersive and allows our residents to travel around while being comfortable in the care home.
“When they used the VR headsets, they were absolutely amazed by the things they saw. The films from the North East were especially enjoyable for the residents, as they could see some of the places where they have lived and worked.”