Despite the gloomy February weather, care team at our Hampton hospice, Shooting Star House were able to enjoy a relaxing trip to the beach and a walk through a sunlit forest thanks to a recent research project at the University of Surrey run by Professor Caroline Scarles and her colleagues Dr Jean-Yves Guillemaut, Dr Naomi Klepacz, Ms Suzanne van Even and Dr Michael Humbracht.

Professor Caroline Scarles team have focused on making an accessible system that did not rely on expensive state of the art equipment to run. The footage is created with a 360 degree camera, which is either mounted on a tripod or worn above the head while filming.

The care team were able to walk on Branscombe beach and around the Devil’s Punch Bowl without even leaving their seats!

There are two different ways the footage can be viewed: through virtual reality goggles, or via dual screen projectors, which offer an immersive experience for groups.

Professor Caroline Scarles’ project has already been tested in a retirement community, but her team were keen to demonstrate the technology to our care and therapy staff, with the aim of learning more about potential applications within the setting of a children’s hospice, and staff had lots of ideas for other films, including a spin round the London Eye, or a trip on roller coasters or round a race track for teenagers.

The technology has a range of potential benefits and future applications. For example a beach themed sensory activity featuring the technology could have children lying on a mat in front of the screens with sensory object to interact with like shells and buckets and spades, accompanied by the smell of fish and chips and the feel of water on your toes.  

After experiencing the amazing technology there was some lovely feedback, “It feels like a meditation;” “It doesn’t matter what is happening in your own life the waves still keep coming; “Enables you to relax.”

Cath Grob, Clinical Informatics Nurse at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices said, “We really appreciate Professor Scarles and her team coming in to demonstrate this technology. Our team found the demo very relaxing, and already have a lot of ideas about how it could be used in our hospices. The potential for using a camera to create our own videos for use on this system is also very exciting. We look forward to working more with them in the future.”