Virtual Reality Experience in Caerphilly Care Homes


A ‘trial’ that was the culmination of 4 years’ work would finally test our Inside-Outside project. The project takes Virtual Reality 360-degree videos into Care Homes. In May 2024, a local Care Home, that had collaborated with us over many months conducted the trial.

Four Care Home residents and their carers were involved in this trial. The carer helped one resident to put on the Virtual Reality (VR) Headset, ready to be ‘transported’ to a new world. The other three residents sat quietly, looking on.

The Project Start

It became starkly apparent at the outset of Covid that residents in Care Homes would become even more isolated than in ‘normal’ times. Mike Oliver, our Event Coordinator, was familiar with Virtual Reality, having worked with Tom Burmeister of PlayFrame in Lewis School, Pengam, where he was assistant head. He conceived the possibility of taking bespoke 360-degree videos of local areas of interest that would take Care Home residents into the virtual world that was otherwise unavailable to them.

He applied to the National Lottery for a grant to fund the project, that enabled us to purchase of equipment and the services of PlayFrame as consultants to film and edit the 360-degree videos. The National Lottery approved the funding in May 2020.

Dogged Determination

By the time we had purchased the equipment, the country was into Lock-down! It was well into 2021 before we could contemplate doing any filming because the team could not even get together, let alone meet with other people. With the use of a little imagination, we made a faltering start. This was when Caerphilly Council was kind enough to let us into their building foyer, in Ty Penallta, one evening to film an Elvis tribute act.

Eventually, as Covid’s restrictions relaxed, we could start filming in earnest. So, by the end of 2022, we had made over 20 360-degree videos.

Throughout 2021-2022, we had remained in contact with 3 Care Homes we had identified in meetings with Caerphilly Council officers. Although we could not enter any Care Homes in this period, it meant that we could continue to develop the video portfolio.

Care Home Restrictions Lifted

One Care Home was enthusiastic about our VR project and as soon as they could allow us access to their home, we arranged a demonstration. So, in February 2023, we arrived in Min Y Mynydd on a dank and dreary day. You can read more about that event in “Min Y Mynydd Care Home”.

In our article about “Dementia Action Week” you can read about another demonstration event. As the programme developed through 2023, we received feedback from residents of their experience with VR:

“………. words cannot describe the feeling of seeing the enjoyment residents have with them. One resident said that they were absolutely marvellous and fantastic. This was the first time they had seen these virtual reality headsets. Another resident and his wife reminisced on memories of him cycling through Roath Park on many past occasions.”

Residents thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially Roath Park. A winner with everyone.”

“One lady, in particular, commented, whilst using the VR headset, on her lovely memories as a child visiting Roath Park. The lady described one funny occasion when she visited after having chickenpox. She described being on the peddle boats on the lake and as a child and very excited she was jumping around on the boat and her mother tapped her on her arm telling her to keep still, but this was her sore arm that had remaining marks of the chickenpox. The lady laughed out loud and actioned to me what her mother did to her.”

“Residents explained how wonderful the experience was and that they felt like they were there in the park. A wonderful experience for all to enjoy and great talking points which bring up some truly amazing memories.”

Lessons Learned in 2023

Throughout the summer of 2023, it became apparent that the Care Homes were finding it difficult to run VR sessions. Holidays and illness made it difficult or impossible to run the sessions.

We knew that the demonstrations we had done were run as ‘events’ with a carer and project member. Working with a group of residents would mean an improved ratio of carer to resident for the rest of the Care Home. But it was not ideal to have residents waiting for their ‘go’ with a headset.

We decided that there was a way to overcome this issue by streaming the content from the headset to a smart TV. Early this year, we started discussions with officers in Caerphilly Council about the possibility of introducing this.

A private Care Home contacted us in February about our VR project. They had seen the articles on our website and wanted to know more about it. After a brief introduction, they were extremely enthusiastic about the concept. While the project team was able to set up the VR headsets casting to a TV in a domestic setting, there were issues in doing it within the Care Home. The IT group supporting the Care Home has now overcome the issue and have it up and running.

This video is not a 360-degree virtual reality one. But it shows how engrossed the residents can be with the virtual reality videos.


So, back to the ‘trial’ of May this year. The team arranged the equipment so that the 3 residents could see on a TV screen what the VR headset wearer was watching. Despite being presented in 2D, participants could still see up, down, left, right, and even “behind them” as the resident with the headset turned their head.

“…we had our first VR experience this week, and all went well. It went very well, in fact. It was myself and my colleague with four residents. We could cast the video to the TV, which worked wonderfully because residents could see and react to what the wearer was seeing, and it really generated conversation amongst those watching and prompted some reminiscence with some stories being shared.”

“…the videos that were chosen were: Walk Around Cwm Darran Park, Roath Park, Margam Park and two of the Caerffili Male Voice Choir rehearsals which went down a storm! All four residents sang along with one resident observing, “she’s there…it’s as if she’s there” when he saw how engrossed she was. The feedback was all very positive “marvellous”, “magnificent”, “that’s brilliant” and “lovely, boys, well done!” (about the choir when one resident forgot he wasn’t in the room with them).”

“I don’t really know how to thank you for your dogged commitment to this programme and for all of your help in realising this for us. I very much appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do.”

We have invited the lead Carer to write the next article to appear here in July.


  1. Residents, most with a diagnosis of dementia, in several Caerphilly Care Homes have enjoyed viewing our Virtual Reality (VR) videos. This reduced any concerns that those with dementia might not tolerate this medium.
  2. Casting (streaming) the video from the VR headset to a TV enables the activity to be run in a group. This allows carers to use their resources efficiently, as it does not reduce the carer/resident ratio and should enhance it.
  3. Interaction between the resident with the headset and the other participants watching the TV improved the overall experience.
  4. Comments made during the viewing of the headset show how completely immersed in the Virtual environment the participants have been.