Virtual Reality at Northwood

Northwood is now home to six virtual reality headsets, each loaded up with 360 degree videos of 16 different Nova Scotia landmarks and places of cultural significance. The headsets are currently being used to offer a VR service through Community Recreation & Wellness, but with the potential for use in reminiscence, pain management, leisure and beyond, we can’t wait to see where else this project will take us.

The collection of 360 degree videos were produced especially for Northwood by Edward Mowbray of Quirk360. The videos include a Mi’kmaq smudging ceremony, a tour through a cave in the Ovens Natural Park, a Catholic Church service, a Baptist choir practice, a musical performance inside the Red Shoe Pub in Cape Breton and more. Northwood was able to purchase the headsets and have the videos produced thanks to a grant from the Department of Seniors.

This is an exciting opportunity for people who may not have the ability to visit these places.

“Our community can now experience different parts of Nova Scotia without leaving Northwood,” says Natasha Handspiker, Manager of Community Engagement. “This is especially beneficial for the elderly and for older adults with cognitive and mobility challenges. An accessible VR service at Northwood has the potential to support our community in reaching a variety of health-related outcomes while providing an opportunity for leisure.”

Gloria MacMillan and Maxine McDonough were the first Northwood residents to try out the headsets at an announcement event in October, along with the Minister of Seniors, Leo Glavine.

Maxine and Gloria both had very positive experiences. “I love it, it’s relaxing,” says Maxine. “When I looked down and saw the ocean floor I thought, ‘woah!’ and it just felt like I was there.”

To better understand how this VR service will help with reaching health-related outcomes, Northwood plans to partner with interested researchers and entrepreneurs to learn more about how VR & 360 degree video can improve the lives of older adults and those living with cognitive and physical challenges.

The VR service is available at both the Halifax and Bedford Campuses, and plans are being made to expand the service to our Homecare clients. Sessions will be by appointment, and each appointment will be a half hour long. Contact Community Recreation & Wellness at 902-454-3351 or crec@nwood.ns.ca if you’d like to book an appointment.