Virtual reality takes residents around the world at Lilian Faithfull care home

PUBLISHED: 14:17 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:17 29 January 2020

Pupils from Cheltenham Ladies' College's visited Lilian Faithfull Care's Astell House, taking residents on journeys around the world using virtual reality headsets (photo: Cheltenham Ladies' College)

Pupils from Cheltenham Ladies' College's visited Lilian Faithfull Care's Astell House, taking residents on journeys around the world using virtual reality headsets (photo: Cheltenham Ladies' College)

Cheltenham Ladies' College

Cheltenham Ladies’ College students visited one of Cheltenham’s residential homes with VR equipment and brought joy to residents

When Cheltenham Ladies' College students visited one of Cheltenham's residential homes with their fabulous virtual reality equipment, little did they realise what joy they would bring...

Cheltenham Ladies' College and the charity Lilian Faithfull Care have long been closely connected. It was a former Principal of the Ladies' College, Lilian Faithfull, who founded the charity over 70 years ago to support the elderly in Gloucestershire. The charity now runs five care homes and two day care hubs in the county and value their close links with the local community.

Cheltenham Ladies' College 'Community Links' programme has, for many years, enabled students to visit Lilian Faithfull Care's homes in Cheltenham, and recently this connection has developed in a new direction. Their Video Games Design Club made their inaugural trip to Astell House and, through the power of virtual reality, their students took residents on journeys around the world from the comfort of their armchairs.

Dr Lim from Cheltenham Ladies' College explains: "As it was our first time doing so, we were slightly apprehensive about how this would be received. We needn't have worried. When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the manager Carole Cook and her team of staff who were also keen to give the technology a try."

Though cautious at first, the girls soon had a steady stream of residents who took them up on the offer. Some of the many heart-warming moments included one of the ladies who asked to go to Piazza San Marco in Venice. 'Standing' in front of St Mark's Basilica and looking round, she started to well up, saying, "you don't know how much this means to me," as she had not been able to travel to see her daughter and family who now lived there. They were also able to 'transport' one of the gentlemen to Sydney Harbour where he had last visited when he was stationed there with the Navy, at a time before the Sydney Opera House was built.

Over the course of their visit residents were taken on safari to see the lions, to Antarctica to see the penguins, to Victoria Falls in Zambia, and also on a diving expedition in the Great Barrier Reef.

Carole Cook, home manager at Astell House, was delighted by the visit. "Our residents thoroughly enjoyed being virtually transported on safari and reliving such wonderful memories of happy times spent in Venice, Chile and Sydney. Technology has remarkable benefits when used to aid positive experiences which otherwise could not be enjoyed by the elderly, and we are grateful to CLC for bringing this to Astell. The residents who took part have all been sharing their experiences with the others in the home; it has become a real talking point."

Dr Lim from Cheltenham Ladies' College says, "I regularly feel a sense of pride at our girls' academic achievements and marvel at the ambition of their co-curricular endeavours. On this occasion, I have been especially proud of their empathy, grace and humility."

Astell House look forward to welcoming the club back in the future to continue their travels!

Lilian Faithfull Care is a charity with over 70 years' experience of caring for the elderly in Gloucestershire. The charity runs five homes, including assisted living, residential and nursing care, as well as two day care hubs. They remain true to the founding principles of the charity: a desire to improve the lives of others through care and dedication. For further information visit lilianfaithfull.co.uk

Cheltenham Ladies' College opened in 1854 and, over 160 years later, continues to be proud of their history of pioneering girls' education and tradition of innovation, academic excellence and empowerment in the education of young women.

Educating 850 pupils from around the world, the college is a large community of boarding and day girls, with outstanding teaching, pastoral care and facilities. Their alumnae go on to study a range of subjects globally and pursue fulfilling careers. cheltladiescollege.org

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