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Sydney startup launches virtual reality experience for aged care residents

A new digital startup launched in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is giving aged care residents who are no longer physically capable of leaving their nursing homes the chance to explore the world via 'virtual reality'.

New virtual reality technology is taking aged care residents 'around the world'. (Source: NomadVR)
New virtual reality technology is taking aged care residents 'around the world'. (Source: NomadVR)

NomadVR Co-Founder Jarrah Cohen says virtual reality (VR) technology has enabled the company to take elderly residents for a virtual excursion to far away places without them ever having to leave the nursing home.

“There’s a time in people’s lives when they can find their twilight years are going to be spent in an aged care facility because they are no longer able to get around as they used to,” Mr Cohen says.

“We at NomadVR have invested a lot of time and energy into curating content that’s appropriate for the elderly and so we can now offer 3D VR experiences that give them true presence in places like the African savanna, Antarctica or the sea floor.

With a VR headset delivering high quality video content, Mr Cohen says the experience is highly immersive with a 360 degree view.

“Participants actually feel like they are there,” he says.

“Demand for our service has grown quickly and we are now facilitating VR experiences for aged care residents in (Sydney suburbs) Little Bay, Waverly, Vaucluse, and more.”

Mr Cohen’s partner and Co-Founder Trent Billington says aged care has been a traditionally slow moving sector and is “ripe for innovation”.

“We had one bed-bound resident who had been a scientist who spent considerable time living and working at the Mawson station in Antarctica. At 100 years of age, we took him on a tour of that station as it is today in virtual reality and he got to wander a space he once knew 60 years earlier as a younger man. Needless to say he was truly amazed,” Mr Billington says.

“For others we have been able to take them back to the street they were born in Europe and sometimes even to see the actual house they once lived in and these can be deeply powerful experiences for the elderly.”

Mr Cohen says it has been “incredibly rewarding” to help aged care residents explore the world.

“NomadVR has been operating for just over a year now, we’re seeing some incredible reactions among residents. The carers are adamant that these sessions really have quite a big impact and in one example a man who no one had previously heard speaking suddenly broke into voice immediately after a ten-minute VR session.”

“We can’t wait to get more residents exploring the world. We know that the benefits include a real sense of excitement, a feeling they have left the aged care facility resulting in noticeable changes towards positive moods and it actually gets them moving,” Mr Billington adds.

Learn more about the project here.

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