Virtual Reality and Palliative Care: How gardens can take away the pain…

The National Garden Scheme, in collaboration with Hospice UK and ReScape, is trialling an exciting new garden reality with technology that can significantly reduce anxiety and pain in patients.

Virtual Reality (VR) has been used extensively in hospice and palliative care for a number of years with it’s mix of reducing anxiety and pain helping at many different points of care. VR distraction therapy effectively immerses a patient (be it on safari, deep sea diving or visiting a garden), which tricks the brain into being present in another reality. This overwhelms the brain with information which leads to a reduction in anxiety and pain.

“Trials in a number of NHS hospitals and hospice settings are seeing really positive results for patients, and staff, alike. So, it’s great to be working with the National Garden Scheme and Hospice UK to offer the first garden experience,” explains Phil Ashwell of ReScape.

The new ‘garden experience’ features the beautiful Welsh gardens of Llanover in Gwent and the Dingle Nurseries and Gardens in Powys.

“That gardens are good for you is central to our work,” says National Garden Scheme Chief Executive, George Plumptre. “And we’re thrilled that this innovative technology means that our gardens will be providing real and meaningful pain relief and relaxation to those who need it most.”


VR in action: A most amazing, moving and beautiful experience

After a successful trial at the Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle, the team there are looking forward to building on the positive impact that VR has on patients and staff. Staff have been impressed and inspired by the effect VR is having on their patients, on their relatives and the staff themselves.

“I have been a nurse for over 25 years, and what I witnessed when a patient used the DR-VR was
probably one of the most amazing, moving and beautiful experiences I have witnessed. It took him back to a time when he was able to dive…a sport he really loved,” reports Gillian, Head of Quality and Clinical Practice at Marie Curie Hospice, Newcastle.

Nearly all patients who have used the VR have found a positive experience with many requesting VR on subsequent visits.

ReScape Virtual Reality

ReScape Virtual Reality

This story forms part of our Gardens and Health Week 2021 content.
Discover more here


Don’t miss a thing

Sign up to hear more about gardens, events and our
activities throughout the year

By completing this form, you confirm that you are aged 18 years or over and that you are happy to receive emails from the National Garden Scheme in accordance with our Privacy Policy. We will never share your details with anyone else without your express permission.



Our donations in 2023

Donor 1
Donor 2 £450,000
Donor 3 £450,000
Donor 4 £450,000
Donor 5 £425,000
Donor 6 £350,000
Donor 7 £350,000
Donor 8
Donor 9 £100,000
Donor 10 £90,000
Donor 11 £80,000
Donor 12 £281,000
Donor 13 £260,000