A routine part of occupational therapy is a home visit, with a stroke survivor, before they have returned home from hospital. These visits can be potentially costly and time-consuming. Recent evidence suggests that they are no more effective than having a carefully structured interview about the risks of returning home in hospital.
This study hopes to adapt a virtual reality tool called a virtual learning environment (VLE) developed to teach occupational therapy students. The adaptation will be for use with stroke survivors in hospital. The aim is to build on the home-risks interview conducted at hospital, with a virtual reality walkthrough of a typical home. The occupational therapist would work with the stroke survivor to highlight potential hazards, (like faulty cooking hobs, tripping risks) in a virtual reality kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom.
Patient and occupational therapists’ views and feedback will be used to develop the existing VLE into a bespoke version for stroke survivors. An experiment with 20 stroke patients will then be conducted using the new VLE tool. Half the stroke patients will come from a geographical region where home visits after stroke are routinely conducted. The other half will come from a region where they are not routinely conducted. Well established measures of well-being will be taken before and 1 month after the VLE intervention to compare the two groups.
If successful, the adapted VLE could lead to a standardised, more effective approach to test patients with a stroke for safe discharge.