In recent years, advancements in technology have paved the way for innovative solutions in various fields, including healthcare. One such groundbreaking initiative is the introduction of virtual reality (VR) headsets by the Sussex Cancer Fund at the Amberley Suite in Worthing Hospital. This initiative follows a successful pilot scheme and aims to revolutionise the patient experience by offering immersive and therapeutic content through the “Dr VR” headset. Patients receiving cancer treatment including chemotherapy are often required to stay at the unit for many hours at a time, improving comfort through engaging activities can make the experience more bearable.
The integration of VR technology in healthcare settings holds immense promise in terms of enhancing patient well-being and overall experience. One of the primary benefits of VR is its ability to serve as a powerful distraction tool. For patients undergoing intensive treatments or procedures, VR offers a means of escape from the clinical environment, allowing them to immerse themselves in engaging virtual experiences.
Moreover, VR has been shown to alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress commonly associated with medical procedures. By transporting patients to serene landscapes or engaging them in interactive games, VR helps to redirect their focus and promote relaxation, thus contributing to a more positive treatment experience.
The therapeutic potential of VR extends beyond mere distraction, as evidenced by its incorporation of guided meditation and relaxation content. These immersive experiences enable patients to engage in mindfulness practices, fostering a sense of calmness and tranquillity amidst the challenges of their medical journey.
The Dr VR headset, created by Rescape, equipped with three sets of content including games, relaxation and guided meditation, and exploratory content featuring nature and cityscapes, has been tailored to cater to the diverse needs of patients undergoing treatment. Tailored to patients receiving treatment the system’s content has been specially designed to minimise motion sickness often associated with more mainstream VR systems as nausea can be one of the number one symptoms reported by patients and also has been designed for easy and thorough cleaning between users adhering to strict infection control measures, as patients are often more vulnerable in terms of their immune system due to treatment.
Sussex Cancer Fund volunteer, Nerys Deutsch, will be assisting patients with the VR technology and collating before and after well-being scores to continue to monitor the effectiveness of the project.
The exploratory content offered through VR not only serves as a source of entertainment but also facilitates virtual travel experiences, allowing patients to explore different environments from the comfort of their chemotherapy chairs. Whether it’s strolling through lush forests or meandering through bustling cityscapes, VR opens up a world of possibilities for patients confined to healthcare facilities.
The introduction of VR headsets at the Amberley Suite underscores the commitment of the Sussex Cancer Fund to prioritise patient well-being and enhance their overall quality of life during treatment. By harnessing the transformative power of technology, this initiative not only addresses the physical aspects of healthcare but also attends to the emotional and psychological needs of patients.
Going forward, it is imperative to continue exploring novel approaches that leverage technology to optimise patient care and promote holistic well-being. If you would like to contribute to this initiative or any of the other Sussex Cancer Fund projects please do so via the donate button below.