Kirkwood Hospice: VR headsets offer new experience for Huddersfield patients ahead of Hospice Care Week
Using headsets, residents have been able to access filmed scenarios in a realistic way thanks to the IT department and its apprentice Jack Morris.
Ahead of Hospice Care Week (October 9 to 15), Jack talked about how using VR is opening up a world of familiar and enjoyable experiences for those receiving care at Kirkwood.
The first to benefit was Maurice ‘Moz’ Greenwood. After suffering pain in his back, Moz was sent for a scan and in early 2023 he was told he had cancer in his lungs, liver and spine.
But while at Kirkwood, with the help of VR, Moz was able to relive his days on two wheels.
Jack, 21, says: “His hobby was riding motorbikes and because of his condition, he was unable to do that. There was a race in 2021 and one of the riders filmed it on a 360 camera and that got put into a VR video.
“When he had the headset, it was basically (like) a professional race. It was like he was back on the bike again, and he was smiling, laughing and using a bit of the language he used when he was on the bike,” says Jack. “He absolutely loved it and his family were in the room as well, his wife and daughter.
“It was quite emotional because you could see the difference before and after...he said his brain could feel the triggers and wanting to change gear and stuff like that. It brought back a lot of good feelings.
“I feel like that's the main selling point for VR because it's a wonderful technology and you can get pretty much anything you want.”
Jack added that he was “really grateful to be able to provide some help”.
He has worked to put on around 12 or more sessions since.
“Some people just want to sit in the garden and have a look at a peaceful surrounding or go on the top of an open back bus through safari course, or things like that,” he says. “There's so many possibilities and it's great when people are doing it because for that brief moment they’re taken away from the reality and seeing something they want to see and it takes their mind off what's going on.”
The hospice has now acquired its own 360-degree camera - which allows them to film panoramic videos - and is going to start creating custom VR experiences for patients.
These could be somebody’s favourite local area, their own street, a walk through town or one of Kirkwood’s own fundraising events such as the Memory Walk, a sponsored walk through the night.
“That’s my vision for the 360 camera - being able to take custom videos that people might hold close to their heart,” says Jack.
Hospice Care Week is a chance to celebrate hospice care nationwide and highlight the work that is being done in end of life care.
Huddersfield man Jack, who was employed at Kirkwood after finishing college in late 2021, says: “After I got the interview, I realised straight away it's a lovely place full of lovely people and I'm grateful that I've got the job here, because the people here are really great. Also the cause as well. I love the sense of working for people. In my job role specifically where we are enablers, it is our job to enable other people to be able to do their job better and give them more options. And being able to do that for this cause, it means a lot to myself and the people that work here.”
After staying in the in-patient unit at Kirkwood for five weeks, Moz was well enough to return home to his family, but did so with a greater sense of hope.
As he prepared to leave earlier this year, he said: “When I came in, it wasn’t good because I thought I was going to die. That’s the top and bottom of it.
"I’ve got a condition where at some point it’s going to get me, but not for a long time, I hope, and these guys (staff at Kirkwood) have put into me: ‘Get in there, boy, and fight it’. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
For more information about the awareness week, visit www.hospiceuk.org