Lifelong Health Innovation with Virtual Reality Headsets

June 20, 2023
LLH VR Patient

Riverside Lifelong Health (LLH) is piloting a program to introduce virtual reality (VR) goggles as a therapeutic and recreational resource at its long-term care communities, beginning with residents who are unable to leave a facility or have limited travel abilities. 

The VR program has launched at Warwick Forest and will roll out to all facilities as team members complete training this spring. Hospice providers also will be able to incorporate the goggles into home-based care. 

By slipping on a lightweight headset, residents and patients can enjoy immersive, 3D videos of different places or activities. Selections can be based on an individual’s past hobbies, interests or careers, thereby drawing on happy memories. 

A person who loved fishing, for example, might step onto a moving boat with ocean views and sounds of lapping water or beach tunes. An animal-lover could play with a purring kitten. A formerly avid traveler could have another adventure abroad. 

“You really do feel as if you’re in another world,” says Victor Hudleston, an Administrator-in-Training leading the effort. “This technology provides a fun and calming escape and, in the case of negative behaviors, often is very effective for redirection.”  

Riverside is building a free online video library featuring picturesque local scenes, many shot with a drone-mounted camera by Greg Gernon, a music therapist who helps coordinate a VR program for Riverside Cancer Care. YouTube also offers a limitless variety of VR videos. 

In the future, LLH could look at adding VR options for facility tours and support groups, Hudleston notes: “We’re excited that there are so many potential avenues to benefit our residents and their families.”