When technology and therapy come together: using virtual reality at Ribble View

14 December 2020

DR VR virtual reality technology headset

Digital technology has the potential to change people’s lives, and Exemplar Health Care is committed to investing in the latest life-enriching technology to make every day better for our people. The team at Ribble View has been trialling the latest virtual reality (VR) technology to explore how it can support our residents and colleagues at the care home.

Lindsay Abraham, Commissioning Home Director at the care home in Preston, shares her experience of using DR.VR, a virtual reality distraction therapy solution, as part of the home’s therapy programme for adults living with complex care needs.

Virtual reality technology

DR.VR is a virtual reality distraction therapy that can support pain management and reduce stress and anxiety.

It uses a headset, which, when worn, transports people to a 3D computer generated environment and immerses them into a virtual ‘world’.

The technology can provide a safe and therapeutic experience for adults living with a range of neuro-disabilities and mental health needs.

The benefits of virtual reality technology in care homes

At Exemplar Health Care, our aim is to make every day better for the people we support – and VR can help us to do this.

During VR sessions, a therapist can reproduce real-life scenarios, personalise and adapt them to the needs of the individuals, and utilise ‘props’ to enhance the experience.

This can bring lots of benefits that have a positive impact on the lives of people living in care homes.  

Making dreams come true

Some of our service users are unable to go to the places that they’ve dreamed of going, especially this year during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – but with VR we can make these dreams come true.

One of our residents loves going to the beach, and with the VR headset, we can provide this meaningful experience from the comfort of the home – and compliment it with other sensory stimulations such as dipping their feet in a paddling pool, running their hands through sand and bringing the smell of fish and chips to the room.

Adding these meaningful experiences into people’s everyday lives can bring huge health and wellbeing benefits.

DR.VR+ also offers a 360 degree camera that loved ones can use to record events such as weddings, dinners or birthdays, which people can watch on the headset so they feel part of those big days!

Especially during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this is a great way to support people to stay in touch with family and friends.

Pain management, stress and anxiety

Research shows that DR.VR can be effective in managing pain, anxiety and stress – the technology transports people to another environment, place or time, which can distract them from their current pain or stresses.

For example, I’ve supported an individual who was extremely anxious about going to the dentist and had not been for four years, despite being in pain and needing treatment. We used DR.VR to support them to manage their anxiety, and they attended the dentist’s surgery using the equipment whilst undergoing treatment.

DR.VR can also support people who display challenging behaviour. We work with individuals and their family to find a programme that was relaxing to them. And when the individual experiences distress, we encourage them to use the DR.VR, which can reduce the duration and frequency of these incidents.

Our Clinical Nurse Manager is already thinking about the benefits for Ribble View:

“For our service users when they are struggling, DR.VR will help to deescalate and redirect when the environment is too stimulating. DR.VR allows them to get to their safe space through guided meditation, relaxation or distraction.”

We’re working closely with our Mental Health and Behaviour Support Team to explore how we can implement VR into our positive behaviour support approach across all of our homes.


VR technology can also support movement and physiotherapy sessions.

Our Physiotherapist at Ribble View uses DR.VR to encourage people to move and stretch different parts of their body in physiotherapy sessions - and has found that using the headsets makes these sessions more engaging and fun … which is our first Exemplar Health Care value!             

The benefits of virtual reality technology for colleagues

Care work is extremely rewarding but it can also be inherently stressful. DR.VR offers calming, guided meditations and peaceful beats to help colleagues to relax and support their wellbeing.

For some people, VR can be more effective than ‘regular’ meditation as it emerges you into a sensory experience, engages the senses and stops any distractions that you might see out of the corner of your eye.

At Ribble View, we’ve introduced the DR.VR headset at break times and team de-briefs, and already, colleagues have seen the benefits.

Our Clinical Nurse Lead shared: “We have recently tested the DRVR system at Ribble View! What a fantastic experience. I loved it! It was so realistic, calming and fun. This equipment will be great for the services users and staff at Ribble View and I cannot wait to put this into our practices” 

About Ribble View

Located on Church Avenue in Preston, Ribble View supports 30 young adults who are living with complex needs.

The home has three 10-bed units which specialise in supporting people living with complex mental health needs, physical disabilities and neuro-disabilities including Huntington’s disease. 

We support people on their journey from being in hospital or living in a secure setting to community-based living, as well as offering longer term support for people living with degenerative or life limiting illnesses.

Read more about Ribble View or make a referral.

About Exemplar Health Care

Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs.

Each one of our community-based homes provide person-centred support and rehabilitation that’s focused on building everyday life skills, maximising independence and empowering people to live as fulfilled lives as possible.

Our homes across England are warm and welcoming places where people can feel at home, carry on doing what they enjoy, and stay in close contact to family and friends.