Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Virtual reality headsets featuring films of Suffolk scenes set to be used for people with dementia in county's care homes recall positive memories




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.

Videos of walks along the East Suffolk coast - such as Southwold - could be created to help people recall a happy memory
Videos of walks along the East Suffolk coast - such as Southwold - could be created to help people recall a happy memory

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.

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.

Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds could also feature on the films for the VR headsets. Picture by Mark Westley
Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds could also feature on the films for the VR headsets. Picture by Mark Westley

“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.

“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.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk