Tidewell Hospice Rolls out Largest Virtual Service in Hospice Care

The Giving Coast

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY OCT 28, 2020

Tidewell Hospice is deploying the largest virtual reality rollout in hospice care history for the 1,100+ patients they serve daily in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Rendever, the leading provider for VR technology for seniors, aids with memory care and helps overcome social isolation. Tidewell is able to enhance its care programs by now providing patients and their loved ones moments of enjoyment and relief from pain and loneliness. "The 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," Tidewell shares. "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." 

Clinical staff members have been trained to use the VR headsets in the assisted-living, long-term care, home and hospice house settings. Clinical Director Harris Zeliff recently facilitated a VR session at the Sarasota Hospice House with a patient and the patient’s wife , both of whom had never tried VR before. “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 Rendever's 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.

“Social isolation and loneliness was classified as an epidemic within the aging demographic long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. With quarantine restrictions and physical distancing measures in place to keep older adults safe, the issue has been exacerbated and the data around loneliness and depression are absolutely alarming," says Cofounder and CEO of Rendever, Kyle Rand. "There has never been a more important time to keep older adults engaged and connected. It is incredibly gratifying to be a part of the solution and witness the impact that Rendever is already having on Tidewell’s patients. We are so delighted to work with their dedicated team to bring joy and connection to the hospice patients they serve." 

Photo courtesy of Rendever.

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