How VR tech made this larrikin’s bucket list

 

MOMENTS after he was told he had just 12 months to live, Gold Coast electrician Geoff Davey suited up and went back to work.

Instead of tears, the 45-year-old larrikin resolved to approach his brain cancer diagnosis by living life as he had always done - with laughs and a bit of fishing.

Nineteen months on and limited to short outings, Mr Davey can still land a catch with the help of new virtual reality simulation therapy.

The Gold Coast-first initiative courtesy of the Gold Coast Health palliative care unit allows patients to tick off bucket-list items in the comfort of their own home.

Through virtual reality headsets, patients can chose from a number of virtual experiences, from fishing, walking through a forest, or an adrenaline-based activity.

In a first for palliative care on the Gold Coast, virtual reality simulations are empowering patients to tick off some of their bucket list items from the comfort of home. Picture Glenn Hampson.
In a first for palliative care on the Gold Coast, virtual reality simulations are empowering patients to tick off some of their bucket list items from the comfort of home. Picture Glenn Hampson.

For Geoff's wife Fiona, the therapy has meant her husband can escape his reality and enjoy adventures without exhausting himself.

"He has always just kept going, with an attitude of I can't change anything so why worry," she said.

"I remember when we were told he was terminal, we went to the car park of the hospital, he got in his electrical gear and went to install an aircon at Biggera Waters. That's just the way he does it.

"Everyone thinks that when you get a diagnosis like this that you can just work through your bucket list - but it doesn't work that way.

"Geoff has seizures and other health issues that come with the diagnosis. It isn't that easy to get out and tick things off, so this has been amazing.

"It has helped his wellbeing, he is mentally stimulated - the care from the palliative team is why we have had him with us for so long."

 

Patient Geoff Davey tries out some virtual fishing from his back porch at Mt Nathan. Picture Glenn Hampson.
Patient Geoff Davey tries out some virtual fishing from his back porch at Mt Nathan. Picture Glenn Hampson.

 

For Mr Davey, the program has allowed him to continue his life-long love of fishing, while sitting in the warm sun in his backyard, or even in bed.

"I can just go. I was walking though the rainforest with David Attenborough the other day.

"That's the thing, these days the time goes so fast. Days go, weeks, months, so it is a good way to take time to look after yourself instead of just give up or anything.

"I can do anything - karaoke, visit the top of the Eiffel Tower. I can do lots of things I haven't been able to do of late.

"Even just simple things like sitting by the water, you can feel yourself elsewhere."

The family was so pleased with the device loaned to them by the hospital, they have bought their own.

Through the Gold Coast Health's 'The Improvers' innovation program the team of occupational therapists were able to lobby for four headsets to assist local patients.

Originally published as How VR tech made this local larrikin's bucket list



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