VIRTUAL reality headsets are allowing patients at a Rowley Regis hospice the chance to travel all over the world without leaving the comfort of their chair.

Rowley Regis Hospital’s Heart of Sandwell Day Hospice has acquired two Oculus Go VR headsets for its patients to use in a whole range of ways.

The headsets can be used for relaxation sessions, to help manage any anxiety or sleep problems or even to conquer some very longstanding fears.

Claire Roach, an occupational therapist working with the hospice, said: “We’ve decided to use virtual reality to help our patients with advanced care planning and also to improve their quality of life and general wellbeing.

“So, we’re looking at issues such as managing anxiety and helping them achieve long held goals – say, if they wanted to go to a specific country or experience something they’d otherwise be unable to.

“With VR that closed door is opened for them again.”

One patient, Daphne Barnes, conquered her fear of water after trying VR experience ‘David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef Dive’.

It sees the 92-year-old broadcaster examine life found in the natural wonder off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Other experiences on the hospice headsets include encounters with dinosaurs, trips down nature trails and visits to far flung locations around the world.

“It’s wonderful,” said Daphne. “I’ve always been terrified of water from when I was about five or six-years-old, but when I was using the VR I had no fear.

“Even though it seemed to cover me I could still get my head above the water, I could see the fish swimming in the water around me, I could see the coral, I could see the islands and the sky.

“It was so lovely – I just can’t find the words to describe it.”

Daphne says her experience means she’s got something more she can discuss with her grandson who uses VR to play videogames.

However, as keen as she is to take in more trips beyond the hospice walls it’s what it has done for her outside of entertainment that she is most in awe of.

She added: “I would recommend it to anyone. It’s taken away my fear, and I’ve been afraid of that for a very long time.”

Facebook-owned Oculus donated the first of the hospice’s headsets and occupational therapist Claire believes they can have many uses.

She added: “Areas such as pain management, or using it to help relax patients who are distressed, helping treat phobias and trauma, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“I see the future of VR in healthcare as something that is very important and I think there’s scope for a lot of development there.”