Having fun in the snow and touching the clouds are some of the ways that residents at Exemplar Health Care’s Ribble View care home are using virtual reality technology to relax during lockdown.
This is part of Exemplar Health Care‘s commitment to investing in the latest life-enriching technology to make every day better for their people.
Over the past few months, the therapy team at the home has been working with individuals to explore their likes and interests, and tailoring the VR experience to their personal choices.
Individuals can choose from a range of pre-loaded films that are shot in 360 degrees, so that once the headsets are placed over their eyes, they can be fully immersed into a ‘virtual world’.
Lindsay Abraham, home manager at Ribble View, says: “Before we begin a session we talk to the individual to find out what they like.
“If someone’s a keen traveller, we can load videos of famous landmarks onto the VR headset, so they can travel around the world from the comfort of their home.
“The technology allows people to see a 360-degree picture and be fully immersed into the virtual experience.”
Since the introduction of VR technology at Ribble View, the team has already seen lots of benefits.
Pamela Hicken, therapist at the home, said: “VR has been well received at Ribble View. Some of our residents get very excited when they see me walking down the hallway with the headset.
“Everyone that’s used it has given positive feedback, and for many of our residents, it’s helped to reduce anxiety and pain.
“We used the VR headset with one of our residents who was experiencing anxiety. Before the session, they rated themselves as 7/10 for anxiety and 4/10 for pain.
“During the session, we used a calming snow scene on the headset, and incorporated massage and breathing exercises into the session, and we could see the individual become more relaxed throughout.
“At the end of the session, they’re anxiety score decreased to 3/10 and pain score to 3/10, and they commented that they found the session very ‘relaxing’.”
VR can also be incorporated into physiotherapy sessions to support rehabilitation and mobility.
Pamela continues: “For residents with athetosis, we’ve seen that their movements have become more purposeful, and residents with limited arm movements have been reaching out to touch things.
“We used the headset with one resident who has limited mobility, and they were moving their neck to look in different directions, and reaching out with their hands.
“Throughout the session, they made comments such as ‘I want to do it every day’ and ‘this is heaven’. By the end of the session, their anxiety score had reduced by two points.”
The benefits of virtual reality technology in care homes
DR.VR is a virtual reality distraction therapy that can support pain management and reduce stress and anxiety.
It uses a headset, which, when worn, transports people to a 3D computer generated environment and immerses them into a virtual ‘world’.
The technology can provide a safe and therapeutic experience for adults living with a range of neuro-disabilities and mental health needs.
Adding these meaningful experiences into people’s everyday lives can bring huge health and wellbeing benefits.
Research also shows that DR.VR can be effective in managing pain, anxiety and stress – the technology transports people to another environment, place or time, which can distract them from their current pain or stresses.
Clinical nurse manager, Shannon O’Dea, says: “For our service users when they are struggling, DR.VR will help to deescalate and redirect when the environment is too stimulating. DR.VR allows them to get to their safe space through guided meditation, relaxation or distraction.”
About Exemplar Health Care
Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs.
They have over 32 community-based, specialist nursing homes and OneCare services which provide person-centred care and rehabilitation that focuses on maximising independence, building everyday living skills and empowering people to live as fulfilled lives as possible.
They support people on their journey from being in hospital or living in a secure setting to community-based living, as well as offering longer term support for people living with degenerative or life-limiting illnesses.
Groundbreaking neurorehab centre opens today
A groundbreaking neurorehabilitation centre is today opening its doors, bringing a new dimension to brain injury rehabilitation in the UK.
Calvert Reconnections, the UK’s first intensive acquired brain injury (ABI) rehabilitation centre which offers a unique approach to rehab for its residents, is now open after having to previously delay plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The centre, on the outskirts of Keswick in the Lake District, offers the first residential programme of its kind, combining traditional clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors.
“The opening of our new centre is the culmination of years of meticulous planning by the Lake District Calvert Trust. It is a landmark moment for the ABI rehab market and for us,” said Giles Mounsey-Heysham, chairman of the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT) trustees.
“Working with leading clinicians and academics, our new rehabilitation centre will provide a groundbreaking, world-class rehabilitation programme tailored to support individuals in their recovery.”
Calvert Reconnections will actively seek to incorporate a wide range of outdoor activities into each participant’s rehabilitation programme, depending on their unique needs and interests.
This may range from reflective activities such as fishing, bird watching or a nature walk, to higher adventure activities such as horse riding, canoeing, rock-climbing and abseiling – all closely assessed and graded to a person’s interests and functional abilities.
It is launching its new service with three confirmed participants and a strong pipeline of referrals, having seen significant interest from across the country since announcing its creation.
“After many challenges along the way, not least the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thrilled to open Calvert Reconnections. We are hugely excited about what the future holds,” says centre director, Sean Day.
Rob White, activity lead at Calvert Reconnections, explains how the use of outdoor activities makes the new service unique.
“At Reconnections, participants are involved in every aspect of the activities they undertake,” he says.
“They complete meaningful tasks, from concept to completion, in a real-world setting. Extensive research shows that outdoor activities can help individuals in their recovery from brain injury.”
Meanwhile, Calvert Reconnections’ long-established sister organisation Calvert Lakes is also reopening its doors today to people with a range of disabilities, from mild to profound, for much-needed holidays in the beautiful Lake District.
“Reopening Calvert Lakes is a welcome return to business as usual. We are so pleased to be able to welcome our visitors back,” says Sean.
Father-and-son bond supports RAF veteran’s recovery
A Royal Air Force veteran who sustained a significant brain injury and overcame “testing hurdles” on the road to recovery is now making strong progress with the unwavering support of his son.
Herbert Martin, an 85-year-old from Littleport, near Ely, sustained a brain injury following a fall in October 2020 and went on to make a remarkable recovery – highlighting the rapid progression specialist rehab therapy can offer.
A former RAF serviceman of 12 years, which included deployments to Cyprus, Australia, Pakistan and Singapore, Herbert was admitted to Askham Rehab on New Year’s Eve 2020 after suffering a subarachnoid haemorrhage that caused a bleed between his brain and skull.
The severity of the injury left Herbert extremely fatigued and resulted in muscle weakness that restricted his mobility. His condition upon arrival at Askham was so critical it was initially feared he wouldn’t recover enough to return home and live independently.
However, due to his extraordinary response to treatment from Askham’s multidisciplinary team of therapists, and the inspiring support from his son, Paul, and two grandchildren, Herbert is almost at a stage where he can return home.
Sara Neaves, clinical lead and outpatients service manager at Askham Rehab, says: “When Herbert first came to us, he was incredibly weak. This made any initial progress extremely challenging.
“He was assessed by our teams of clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists, before SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals were set to aid his recovery.
“To begin getting Herbert back on his feet, we began to build his strength and stamina up through various therapy exercises and activities, such as baking and cooking. Eventually, he progressed enough to be able to use our hydrotherapy pool where he could benefit from the many qualities of exercising in water.
“In a short space of time, he was then able to push himself further in our state-of-the-art robotic suite, where he used Tyromotion’s MYRO table, a sensor-based surface with interactive applications, to work on his standing balance and weight transference, whilst challenging his upper limb coordination. He also used the OMEGO Plus, a multifunctional chair enabling specific training of functional therapy goals, to build on his range of movement and strength.”
With the initial belief that it was unlikely Herbert would be able to return home and that another setting would be more suitable for him due to the severity of his condition, he surpassed everyone’s expectations during the early stages of his rehabilitation, maintaining an outstanding level of engagement in his therapy sessions.
One key driver for this was the support of his son, who has been motivating him every day throughout his stay at Askham, playing an integral role in his father’s recovery.
Paul’s encouragement enabled Herbert to push himself to perform functional tasks and overcome challenges to slowly regain his independence. Herbert went from standing at a work surface to standing with parallel bars, and finally taking independent steps with a rollator walking frame, which he was determined to achieve.
Sara continues: “Herbert’s main goal is to get back home. To facilitate this, our occupational therapy team completed a home assessment where they have been making adaptations to enable him to be as fully independent as possible.
“Today, he can now mobilise completely independently with a rollator. It was only a few months ago we feared informing his son that he wouldn’t be able to return home, so to see Herbert nearing a point where he can live a completely independent and happy life is nothing short of amazing.
“His remarkable progress is also due to the wonderful relationship he has with his son. The bond they have is really special and has been monumental in Herbert overcoming so many testing hurdles. It’s enabled him to maintain motivation to progress whilst allowing us to establish an effective working relationship with his family, which has allowed us to facilitate Herbert as coherently and effectively as possible.”
Herbert says: “I have a lovely relationship with my son, Paul. Every night we talk to each other without fail and he has been looking after my bungalow during my rehabilitation. The Askham Rehab team have been excellent. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, director at Askham, adds: “Our ethos is all about maintaining a person-centred approach. We put the patient at the core of our practices and empower them with the tools to oversee their journey with us their own way. We’re delighted Herbert has reached a stage where he can almost return home and live independently.”
Day One Trauma Support rolling out nationally
A charity which supports seriously injured people from the earliest stages of their recovery is rolling out its services in new regions following its national launch last month.
Day One Trauma Support offers financial, emotional and legal support to patients and their families, and was originally based at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Its support will now also be offered in the Major Trauma Centre at Aintree University Hospital, with rollout into more of the country’s 27 Major Trauma Centres also planned.
The charity is launching a fundraising drive during July to help raise vital funds for the expansion of its services, with over 100 people committing to each cover 75 miles to raise money – the distance marking the journey between Leeds and Aintree.
Day One’s support ranges from emergency funding for accommodation for families of patients being treated far from home, longer-term funding for mobility equipment, and legal advice with personal injury claims.
The charity helps arrange counselling, welfare benefits and peer support volunteers, who offer a sounding board to patients still coming to terms with their injuries.
Day One has already supported more than 1,000 patients across Yorkshire since its local inception in 2014. Recently granted independent charitable status, Day One can now work beyond Yorkshire.
Among those taking part are 40 medical professionals including surgeons, physiotherapists and nurses, from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Aintree Major Trauma Centre, who will cover the distance as two competing relay teams on 31st July along the canal between Leeds and Liverpool.
Also participating is former Day One patient, Gary Brennan, who in 2010 made a remarkable recovery from a motorbike accident in which paramedics initially declared him dead at the scene.
In spite of his long-term injuries, Gary has committed to cover the 75 miles by Segway for the benefit of others like him.
“Before Day One, patients had to figure things out on their own. We weren’t aware of any benefits we may have been entitled to,” says Gary.
“I’ll do everything I can to make sure others going through what I went through have better support and advice as they recover.
“I’m hoping to cover the 75 Miles on a Segway, which isn’t as easy as it sounds – especially not with my spinal osteoporosis arthritis!”
Additionally, more than 20 lawyers and associates from Leigh Day, Sintons and Irwin Mitchell will join forces to raise as much money as possible for the injured patients they work with as members of Day One’s legal panel.
Lucy Nickson, CEO of Day One Trauma Support, says: “We are so grateful to everyone who has taken up the 75 Miles in July challenge to help us provide more trauma support.
“This is a chance for us all to stand together with those recovering from injuries that test their physical limits every day, and push our bodies a little harder to help raise vital funds on their behalf.
“We believe a supported recovery should not come down to luck or post code. With the help of this fundraiser we’re taking a step closer to making that a reality.”
Professor Peter Giannoudis, trauma surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Day One founder, says: “The 75 miles from Leeds to Aintree is more than distance; it’s about the journey of collaboration, expansion and hope as these two Major Trauma Centres lead the way in mapping out the future care provision for patients recovering from serious traumatic injuries.”
“We’ve seen first-hand how vital the work of Day One is to families whose loved ones are in Leeds Major Trauma Centre, and for whom the support and guidance of the Day One team, during some of the most difficult and traumatic times they have probably ever faced, is absolutely invaluable,” adds Phil Davison, head of general personal injury at Sintons.
“It is simply fantastic news that this is now being expanded into Aintree Major Trauma Centre, for the benefit of patients and families there, too – but their work comes at a cost, and fundraising plays a major role in helping to sustain this.”
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