Remembering those precious moments and memories

North Devon Gazette

Technology has always been my passion, particularly thinking about how it can help people in new and unexpected ways. Â

I’m very fortunate to be doing an IT apprenticeship at North Devon Hospice, which, of course, means learning about all the systems needed to keep such a large and complex organisation working smoothly, but it has also given me some great opportunities to investigate technology that directly helps our patients and families.Â

When Covid hit almost two years ago, our IT team were proud to play such an important role in making sure that our hospice care carried on without missing a beat. We helped all staff get set up to work from home and gave the nursing and counselling teams everything they needed to be able to communicate with patients when face-to-face contact wasn’t available. Â

However, I’m also really excited about another project we have been working on, which is the use of virtual reality for our patients and families. We have invested in a virtual reality headset and trained several of our nurses in how to use it, so they can give unique and amazing experiences to people in their care. This is particularly valuable to patients at North Devon Hospice, whose illness means that they may not be able to do things like travel abroad or even visit the beach again. Â

We have a huge number of pre-made virtual reality experiences that they can enjoy, everything from driving a car on sheet ice in Iceland, to a hot air balloon ride over the Grand Canyon. Â

Going forward, we will be able to record bespoke virtual reality experiences for people, which will be an absolute game-changer. So, if somebody has a favourite route they used to walk their dog, but are no longer able to go there, we can record a 360-degree view of that exact route and load it into the virtual reality headset. The patient can then be immersed in the sights and sounds of a place which means so much to them.Â

We are glad to have to the support of the globally renowned creative agency Bray Leino, based not far from the hospice in Filleigh, to help us in this mission. They will lend their technological expertise to help us make this dream happen for hospice patients in the not-too-distant future. Â

This is all part of the ethos behind North Devon Hospice’s care, going the extra mile to make sure that patients and families can create precious memories and make the most of every single day. Â

They may be facing a life-limiting illness, like cancer, but we believe that it’s the life in your days which count, not the days in your life. Â

While we are blessed to have the expertise of doctors and nurses who can provide the finest medical care, to help relieve pain and other symptoms, we are also committed to treating each person as an individual and looking after their whole wellbeing. Providing memorable experiences which raise a smile is a vital part of our care. Â Â

It has been really humbling to receive feedback from the patients who have already enjoyed our virtual reality headset. For many, it will be their first time engaging with such technology, so they are blown away by how realistic the experience is. Â

To hear that we’ve been able to allow someone a virtual walk through the streets of Paris, their favourite city, is heart-warming and brings so much meaning to my working day. I’m very proud to be part of an excellent IT team at North Devon Hospice who work so hard to make sure we can provide the best care possible. Â

A lot of that is behind-the-scenes work involving systems, servers and databases, but we know all of that makes a real difference. However, it’s also such a privilege to be involved in projects which directly benefit our patients too, and our aim going forward is to see how technology can make our care the very best it can be for local people. Â

Matt BakerÂ
IT ApprenticeÂ
North Devon HospiceÂ