Banfield Pavilion makes good use of Virtual Reality goggles

Personally, I never quite got the appeal of Virtual Reality goggles – until my brother-in-law programmed them to a Beatles’ concert. There I was – or so it seemed – at a Beatles’ concert. That was cool.

But how Robert O’Neill, Manager of Residential Services at the Banfield Pavilion, is using the technology is beyond cool. It’s beautiful. O’Neill started a virtual reality program for residents who have not left the building in a very long time. His idea was to transport them to a place that would bring them joy.

Robert ONeill with the Banfield mascot (Anakin), a dog he adopted to become a therapy dog for residents.

“I tried the goggles on one resident who I had been told had always loved the beach,” explained O’Neill. “We had him sitting in a darker room with a fan blowing on him and we sprayed tanning oil in the air to give it the smell of the beach. We also put his hand in a bucket of sand.” The goggles did the rest – 360 degree scenes of the beach everywhere he turned his head, waves crashing at his feet, and the sound of the ocean  – it was all there. And so was the resident.

“This was someone who has been non-verbal for a very long time,” adds O’Neill. “But while he was wearing those goggles, he started singing a song about being down by the seaside.”

The other thing worth mentioning about this program is that the cost is minimal. They are using their work phones to make this happen. “When we got our new iPhones, I realized that we can do so much more than make calls,” says O’Neill.  “The Virtual Reality goggles are only $150 – it’s the iPhones that really make the program work.”

Special thanks to the Recreation Team at Banfield

The team play a big role in making this program happen. Recreation Manager and Occupational Therapist, Hillary Radford, and the two recreation workers  Yee-Sin Law and Natalie Chapman are working to transform the recreation programs at Banfield Pavilion by focusing on a balance of programs within the domains of wellness and smaller 1:1 recreational programs. The Virtual Reality program is a 1:1 program that offers residents a chance to explore our universe in a 360 degree virtual reality tour through spaces in surround sound, meeting the spiritual domain of wellness while also providing sensory stimulation.


  1. Melanie Chow

    This is very creative and has great potential! I heard that VR goggles take some time getting used to, that it makes you dizzy/disoriented at the beginning so you can only wear it a few minutes at a time. Do the residents feel the same? Looking forward to your follow-up story!

    March 26, 2018
    • Kathleen Butler

      Nothing like that has been mentioned. We will do other stories in the future. thank you.

      March 27, 2018
  2. Johneen

    Amazing! I can also see this being used for seniors who enjoy dancing and wonder if it can be interactive for I believe there will be much chair dancing taking place!

    March 26, 2018
  3. Johneen McElroy

    Amazing! I can also see this being used for seniors who enjoy dancing and wonder if it can be interactive for I believe there will be much chair dancing taking place!

    March 23, 2018
  4. Lillian Hung

    This is so awesome. I am impressed by the use of technology and a real animal to enrich the lives of residents. Any plan to spread these low cost and hugely beneficial practice across VCH?

    March 22, 2018
    • Kathleen Butler

      It is awesome. Anyone interested could talk to Robert O’Neill about the program. It is in the early stages and we will do a follow up story in a couple of months. Thanks.

      March 22, 2018