Residents at Vale View Heights, a 50-bed care home in Sidmouth, East Devon have enjoyed the unique experience of diving under the ocean from the comfort of their sitting room with virtual reality headsets provided by the Ocean Conservation Trust at Plymouth Aquarium.

As part of its broad activities programme Vale View Heights has a ‘Magical Moments’ list for residents, where they say what they’d most like to do or what they’ve always wanted to accomplish.  Resident Dennis Friend, 100 next year, said he’d love to return to Plymouth Aquarium so the team at Vale View Heights set about making his dream a reality.

Fortunately, the Ocean Conservation Trust at Plymouth Aquarium offered to deliver a virtual reality workshop to residents at the home, meaning many more residents could enjoy the experience too.   A team from Plymouth Aquarium helped twelve residents don their headsets and experience life under the sea for a few hours with programmes such as ‘In the shark tank’ and ‘Under the ocean’.  They also brought with them various objects from the seabed such as dolphin skulls, ribs and dorsal fins as well as a wolffish skull.

Dennis Friend, resident at Vale View Heights, said:

“I was asked what I’d most like to do this year and top of the list was to return to Plymouth Aquarium to see the sharks.  I haven’t been there for nearly 30 years. Luckily, Plymouth Aquarium brought the experience to us, and we had a marvellous time with the virtual reality sets, swimming with the fish, sharks and a huge octopus.  It was a wonderful afternoon.”

Brian Pankhurst, resident at Vale View Heights, said:

“The visit from the staff at Plymouth Aquarium was first class.  The staff were so knowledgeable, and everyone enjoyed the afternoon greatly.  A huge success all round.”

Janet Stanley, activities coordinator at Vale View Heights said:

“It was a real pleasure to be able to provide the residents with such a unique and unusual activity.  The afternoon gave them all so much joy and generated a real buzz in the home.  The feedback from residents was overwhelmingly positive.

“We are very grateful to the team at Plymouth Aquarium, who are welcome back at any time.”

Vale View Heights provides residential, nursing and respite care for up to 50 residents. The home is a warm and welcoming environment where independence is encouraged and individuality is celebrated. Vale View offers stunning views over the Sid Valley and of the home’s own mature gardens.