SARASOTA, Fla. (October 12, 2020)—Tidewell Hospice is using technology to enhance its care programs and provide patients and their loved one’s moments of joy and relief from pain and social isolation.

The virtual reality (VR) platform allows groups of people to leave the four walls of their residence and engage with the world in ways they never thought possible. Patients are encouraged to experience their immersive life review, an important process for anyone facing end of life, by revisiting significant places from their past, and check off bucket list items—all through the immersive experience that VR offers.

The technology is provided through Rendever, the leading provider of VR for seniors.

Tidewell clinical staff members have trained to use VR headsets in the home, assisted-living, long-term care and hospice house settings. Clinical Director Harris Zeliff recently facilitated a VR session with a patient and the patient’s wife at the Sarasota Hospice House. The patient had never tried VR.

“It was an amazing experience for everyone, myself included,” Zeliff said. “We went skydiving, enjoyed an elephant safari, explored a volcano and visited the International Space Station. The patient and his wife had a friendly competition popping virtual balloons. At the end of our experience, we relaxed with the technology’s meditation app, which guided them through breathing techniques while in a calming meadow.”

The Tidewell Foundation, Inc., received a pair of grants that assisted with the purchase of equipment and accessories. The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund provided funds for headsets and iPads at the Lakewood Ranch Hospice House. The J. Milton & Nellie E. Hoffa Memorial Foundation funded headsets and iPads for the Tidewell Hospice unit at Venice Regional Bayfront Health.

“The Tidewell Foundation is so appreciative to these donors who understand the importance of family connections, particularly during health challenges. These grant investments support the Tidewell Foundation to provide additional technology tools during this challenging time of COVID, and sustain the world-class care our patients, families and community have come to expect from Tidewell Hospice.”

Tidewell Hospice serves more than 1,100 patients daily in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

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