Virtual reality allows care home residents to visit places they’ve always dreamed of

Residents at a care home in Grantham were treated to an experience with virtual reality, allowing them to see whatever they wanted.

Gary Ballantyne, 40, and owner of Viral Entertainment offered the residents of the Royal Windsor Care Home the chance to see places they have always wanted to see through virtual reality headsets.

The residents who participated in the virtual experience decided where they would like to go or what they would like to see and let the virtual reality headset transport them there.

Ian Drummond exploring space, as Gary Ballantyne discusses the VR software. (58571506)

Married couple Humphrey Platts, 93 and Diana Platts, 89, decided to see the Northern Lights as they had been to Norway before, but were unable to see the lights.

Humphrey said: “It was very nice. I often wondered about them (the Northern Lights).

Humphrey and Diana Platts viewing the Northern Lights through the software.  (58571833)
Humphrey and Diana Platts viewing the Northern Lights through the software. (58571833)
Humphrey Platt viewing the Northern Lights.  (58571870)
Humphrey Platt viewing the Northern Lights. (58571870)

“Going to Norway at the right time that’s fine, but we missed out when we went.

“It was the midnight sun rather than the Northern Lights. You need to go in the winter for the Northern Lights.”

Diana added: “It was very nice and there were lovely scenes. It felt like I was there.”

John Bartlett visiting the Carribean with the software.  (58571752)
John Bartlett visiting the Carribean with the software. (58571752)

John Bartlett, 75, decided he wanted to see the Caribbean.

He said: “It’s a brilliant experience, you feel like you’re there.

“I’ve been before to the Bahamas but this was the next best thing.”

John Bartlett with Anita Hasken.  (58571720)
John Bartlett with Anita Hasken. (58571720)

Ian Drummond, 63, chose to see what space was like and explained to a nurse he “felt like a spaceman.”

Just like Humphrey and Diana, Liz Buckston, 85, also decided to view the Northern Lights.

She added: “They were very good but I thought they were very individual lights, rather more like flowers. It was all a mass.”

Liz Buckston viewing the Northern Lights through VR.  (58571616)
Liz Buckston viewing the Northern Lights through VR. (58571616)

The idea for the residents to experience what virtual reality is like came when Anita Asken, activities co-ordinator at the care home, saw a BBC interview with Gary on Facebook.

She asked if he would come in to show the residents the virtual reality software and he then offered a free trial to them.

As a part of this, Anita organized it as a surprise for resident Brian Gibson, aged 90, and he was able to live his dream of driving a sea plane through the headset.

Brian Gibson experiencing what it is like to drive a seaplane with the software.  (58571735)
Brian Gibson experiencing what it is like to drive a seaplane with the software. (58571735)

Anita said: “I try to make all wishes and dreams come true since I’ve worked at Royal Windsor and Brian’s dream was to go in a sea plane.

“The only way I could make that happen was to do it through virtual reality and I’m able to make that dream come true today with Viral Entertainment.”

Brian added: “It was very good, but not as good as a Lancaster Bomber! It was very calm, very quiet.”

Gary Ballantyne, owner of Viral Entertainment.  (58571648)
Gary Ballantyne, owner of Viral Entertainment. (58571648)

Gary set up Viral Entertainment after leaving the armed forces and crossing over to IT.

He said: “I was earning good money but when I tried VR, it was something exciting and I knew it was going to explode.

“I wanted to start a business up and the quickest and most convenient way to do this was to open up an entertainment centre.

“It can be used as a getaway and escapism for people in isolated environments.

Gary Ballantyne talking with Diana Platts.  (58571598)
Gary Ballantyne talking with Diana Platts. (58571598)

“The technology can transport people to anywhere and I mean anywhere!

“They can do tours of cities, watch documents or even go into space. The only limitation is their imagination.”

Viral Entertainment is based in Corby in Northamptonshire, which is also where Gary lives.



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