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Thrilling experiences through virtual reality

July 28th, 2021

Residents at Points West Living Peace River are enjoying immersion in a world of travel and experience. So far they’ve visited the Caribbean, Rome and China. Some have ridden a roller coaster and walked with dinosaurs; all through the magic of virtual reality (VR).

VR systems donated

As part of last summer’s #Steps2MentalHealth walking challenge, organizer Georg Rath collected donations to purchase virtual reality systems for all participating communities. Those systems, along with the wraparound video headset, accompanying videos, and system training were made available earlier this year.

They really do enjoy it

At PWL Peace River, Wellness Supervisor Kristine Cockwill, along with recreation care partner Angele Gaucher, took up the challenge to learn and deliver the experience to residents. “When we first started, we would go to the residents’ rooms,” Kristine says, but to reduce set-up time they’ve switched to a single spot in a common area. “You have to draw a circle around yourself and remain in the circle to get the full VR experience. It is not recommended to keep the VR on one person for more than 5-10 minutes, which seems to be the biggest struggle because they really do enjoy it.”

The biggest smiles

“It is just amazing to see our residents with the biggest smiles on their faces while they get to experience all these new adventures through the VR,” says Kristine. “It is such a wonderful opportunity for the residents who are unable to get out and travel. The VR system allows them to be able to go anywhere in the world and more.”

"It was so real..."

Residents who are comfortable with the experience seem to love it, says Kristine, recalling some residents’ comments, like, “This is so neat!”, “I like how you can go and see different places around the world and feel like you’re kind of there.” And this delightful exchange,
     Kristine: "Dennis, have you tried out the virtual reality yet?"
     Dennis: "Yes! I went to China!"
     Kristine: "How was your experience in China?"
     Dennis: "It was so real! I was trying to shake people's hands (haha)! The cathedral was beautiful!"

Heartwarming

“Residents are now coming up with ideas of other places they want to go visit,” says Kristine. “It is so heartwarming to see everyone getting excited about this. Once gardening season is over, we’ll set up a Wednesday VR time where residents will have the option to come out and have a turn. It will be a fantastic activity during the winter when we are unable to get outside much.”

Photo collage: PWL Peace River are seeing the world through their VR headsets.

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