Older man using virtual reality

The University of Plymouth is co-supporting a new project for care home residents to enjoy the Eden Project through virtual reality.

Led by Cornwall Care and the Eden Project itself, the work is supported by Generating Older Active Lives Digitally (GOALD), a joint programme run by the Universities of Stirling and Plymouth that promotes health and wellbeing for older people through digital connectivity.

The work involves delivering 360° photos, live video streams and immersive augmented and virtual reality experiences, and Cornwall Care home activity coordinators at Headlands in Carbis Bay, St Breock in Wadebridge and Woodland in St Austell have introduced the new technology.

Natasha Eden, Director of the Care Academy, explains how the work is already making a difference to residents. She said: 

“It’s really lovely for our residents to be able to escape into a virtual world of wonderful global horticulture. One of them, who lives at St Breock, worked at Eden in the early days and loves seeing how the attraction has developed.

“Eden has been captured in all its moods from sunrise to sunset and being part of that, even virtually, is magical. Cornwall Care is committed to embracing technology for the benefit of those we care for and staying connected has never been more important for health and wellbeing. That’s why this innovative approach is vital and why we’re delighted to be involved.” 

Eden is one of nine projects to be funded by the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport in the UK’s 5G Testbeds and Trials programme. The £28.3m joint investment between Government and businesses is testing how 5G can be used to help British industry capitalise on the power of modern technology. 

Darren Hoare, the Eden Project’s programme lead, said: 

“It’s been great for the Eden Project to be working with Cornwall Care on this aspect of the Eden Universe. The work that has gone into developing the content for the residents of the care homes to experience has been thought about in great detail at every step of the way and the feedback we are getting from the residents and activity co-ordinators has made it all worthwhile.”

Dr Hannah Bradwell, Research Fellow on the GOALD project and part of the Centre for Health Technology at the University of Plymouth, said: 

“The University’s Centre for Health Technology is really concerned with digital equity – in this case what you might call ‘digitally enabled equity’. This gives people who can no longer physically get to places, the ability to ‘teleport’ in and experience wonderful places like the Eden Project, so we’re really pleased to be involved.”

Centre for Health Technology

Bringing together digital health and health technology expertise from across the University to drive the development, evaluation and implementation of innovative technologies, products, services and approaches to transform health and social care.

Find out more about the Centre for Health Technology
Online tele medicine isometric concept. Medical consultation and treatment via application of smartphone connected internet clinic.