Royal Trinity Hospice has launched a research study to explore the potential of virtual reality as a therapy for people at the end of life. The year-long study, ran in partnership with Flix Films, will assess the impact of virtual reality on 20 people’s experience of physical and psychological symptoms.

Existing research has found that virtual reality can help reduce anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and pain in people living with a variety of illnesses and conditions including children with cancer and people with burn wounds. However this research is the first of its kind to assess the potential therapeutic benefit of virtual reality for people receiving palliative care.

Letizia Perna-Forrest, Head of Patient and Family Support at Trinity, explained, ‘Our initial trials with virtual reality enabled people to achieve their bucket lists wishes from their bed in the hospice, like walking in the desert or seeing the northern lights. But the more we researched into the world of virtual reality, the more we felt there was scope to use this as a therapy.

‘Through our study we aim to understand how virtual reality impacts on the symptom management of people receiving palliative care. We believe that virtual reality has the potential in future to be included in the holistic suite of supportive therapies, alongside counselling, reiki, art therapy, and physiotherapy.’

Leon Ancliffe, Director at Flix Films, said, ‘To be a part of this project and to be able to give people the chance to experience something special at this time of their life is an absolute privilege.’