Assisted living facility uses VR technology to help residents ‘escape’ during COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been making it very difficult for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep residents safe. But it has also been difficult to keep the seniors occupied and engaged.
To help with this, one facility in Middlesex County has started using virtual reality as a way to escape.
Residents living at the facility were able to try a variety of experiences. Sylvia Wiser tried to reach out to pet the goats at the petting zoo she was experiencing. Bob Gutworth visited the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona. And Peggy Wilson watched a group of dolphins swim by.
It is all part of the virtual reality session for residents at Parker at Stonegate – an assisted living facility in Highland Park. The group gets to watch immersive, 260-degree videos.
The facility got the gear and introduced virtual reality as part of its recreation plan in January but put it in high-gear as the coronavirus lockdown took hold and it became tougher to keep residents mentally and socially stimulated.
“Because it’s a great way to engage the residents without them leaving their community, especially at a time of social distance,” says Parker at Stonegate's Patricia Newman.
Staff at the facility say that the VR sessions not only give the residents new experiences, they also encourage the residents to tell the group about their own experiences.
“Getting to learn about the residents and where they traveled and their favorite destinations, opened up conversations between them and us,” says Newman.
The staff says that the residents embraced the new technology with open arms.