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Virtual reality brings back golden memories

People at day centres and residential homes in Swansea have been recalling their experience of the Queen's Coronation after using virtual reality headsets to watch a film that recreates the sights and sounds of the event 65 years ago.


The users of Swansea Council's Adult Services, including people living with dementia, have been using the equipment to watch a film called 'The Way Back' which documents street parties up and down the land along with other activities associated with the coronation.

It has had remarkable results with many recounting experiences from the day and sharing their memories with staff and other service users.

The idea came about when social services officers attended an event organised by Digital Communities Wales and then spread the word amongst its Dementia Champions.

Jane Thomas, who is part of Swansea Council's Adult Service Provision management team, said: "People have been amazed by their virtual reality experience.

"Many of those who used the headsets said that they felt it was so true to life. They became really immersed in the technology and it triggered personal stories and took them back to a time of happy memories which unlocked many positive emotions.

"It brought back memories of people having days off school, visiting neighbours' homes to watch the coronation on television as many households did not have one at the time, street parties, eating with friends, the cars of the time such as Morris Minors and one lady even broke out in song singing 'Oh, he's a jolly good fellow'."

The pilot has been so successful Swansea Council is expanding the training and virtual reality experience across all of its adult service provision.                                                     

It has already opened the doors to allow service users to visit places they may never have been to before or try new activities.

They have used the headsets to go on safari, dive under the sea, walk on the moon and take a ride on a roller coaster.

Jane added: "This technology has given people a sense of freedom and wonder to explore the virtual reality world.

"People who have used the headsets become more alert, engaged and uplifted as they recalled and shared happy memories from their past and tried out new activities."

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Care, Health and Ageing Well, said: "I'm delighted this has been such a success and that people who use our residential homes, day services and respite care have had such a positive experience.

"The council is committed to making life easier for people in Swansea living with dementia and to support their families. As a partner in Dementia Friendly Swansea many of our frontline staff have undertaken training to become Dementia Champions.

"I would congratulate the team for this initiative and look forward to hearing more about its positive impact as it is expanded in the months to come."

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