We are excited to launch a new project for care homes using modern technology to combat isolation within spaces that have become known as “islands of the old”.

Inside Outside uses VR experiences to aid reminiscence for residents by building a library of 360 degree videos of familiar places people would love to visit again. With the aid of special headsets residents are transported to each location thanks to the technological skills of Colour Black Productions. The technology also works for recording and sharing events and performances.

Following a successful pilot project last year, Awen has worked with staff at three Bridgend care homes to consult with residents on the types of films they would like to be made, covering favourite locations and memories. As the project builds, our aim is to create a vast catalogue of options, which multiple care homes could access as we fund additional headsets and role out the project across all the areas Awen works.

At Bryn Y Cae care home in Brackla, we worked with residents including Bill Hughes, 85, from Bridgend. Bill is a widower and electric wheelchair user and has been a resident for several years. He was very open to the VR experience and was instantly impressed with videos of Porthcawl, where he had not been able to visit for many years.

Bill commented: “It was a great experience using the VR headsets; it was all so clear. You could see everything up to date, as it is now, it’s like you are there right on the prom”. He added “It would be nice to use when you are sitting in your room on your own relaxing”.

Bill also shared stories of playing with the Parc & Dare Band on the double bass at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl. He said he would value seeing places like Cowbridge where he used to go shopping with his wife who sadly passed away some years ago. He said the whole experience had given him a “happy buzzy feeling” as if he had really been for a special day out.

Staff at the home were equally impressed, noting how much the experience had positively affected residents’ moods, and how the resource could be used to boost wellbeing on difficult days after a session full of smiles and conversation. The memories of Porthcawl have even resulted in the home arranging a special trip for those able to leave the home to visit the seaside town once more. The group will be visiting the Grand Pavilion as their base and making sure they get an ice cream before they head home.

Inside Outside is a long-term project for Awen Cultural Trust, initially financed by the ICF Dementia Fund.

Click here to view a short video about the pilot project.