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Hospice Patient Fred Visits Italy

virtual reality trip

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer technology that immerses the user inside a simulated environment. End-of-life doula Anissa Picard, thanks to her son, took a VR trip to Croatia that was so enjoyable she decided to try VR with patients at the local hospice where she volunteers.

A few months later, Anissa was able to take Fred to Italy. He is pictured here (with Joe, the VRcade owner, who brought the equipment). Fred discovered that the hotel where he stayed with his buddies during WWII was still standing! Anissa also took one patient to the Grand Canyon and another scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef. Anissa says, “Some smiled, others laughed and some even cried. Afterward, the patients reminisced and shared stories and memories with one another. It was a wonderful, emotional experience, not only for the residents, but for Joe, myself, and the staff as well.”

Anissa is not the only one with a passion for bringing VR to hospice; it’s happening around the world. A specialized VR platform for healthcare has been developed in Los Angeles, and research is being done on how VR improves patients’ quality of life. For those thinking of using VR, Anissa recommends collaborating with as many people as possible to provide the most benefit.

Merilynne Rush, MSHP, RN, BSN

Merilynne Rush, MSHP, RN, BSN, is co-owner of Lifespan Doulas, where she teaches end-of-life doula training and mentors new doulas. She is President of the National End-of-life Doula Alliance and a member of the NHPCO End-of-life Doula Advisory Council. Merilynne is an Advance Care Planning facilitator and educates families on how to have a home funeral and green burial.

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