THOSE apprehensive ahead of a first visit to a local hospice can now take a virtual tour of the building before stepping through the doors in real life.

St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth have developed the interactive tour to help ’break down barriers’ and ’demystify’ the work nurses and other staff do there, the charity says.

The online tool, available through the St Luke’s website, gives anyone the chance to take a stroll around the building in Turnchapel, Plymstock, and includes information on what happens in the various parts of it.

The charity’s head of inpatient nursing services Nicola Pereira said: ’We know people can be uncertain when they first have to visit the hospice. We hope that having the virtual tour available makes that first visit a bit easier and people can see what a bright, airy and welcoming place the unit is.’

The walk around the custom-built hospice takes in bed and treatment spaces, the reception, the cheery cafe, the children’s play area, a number of rest and relaxation lounges, the panoramic view and the beautifully manicured gardens that patients and their families can enjoy.

Children are also catered for with a find the teddy challenge, which sees in-house mascot Mr Wiggles hidden away in two of the rooms for kids to find and enjoy.

The tour was designed by Emotive360, an interactive 360 degree and aerial media company based in Plymouth. Duncan Hine from the company said: ’Using cutting edge technology to create immersive content enables us to engage with people in a new way. It is about presenting information in a clear and concise but interesting way.’

The St Luke’s unit cares for patients from across South East Cornwall, Dartmoor and the South Hams suffering from complex symptoms at the end of their lives.

Currently around seven per cent of the more than 3,400 patients St Luke’s sees a year use the donation-funded facility, with more than 40 per cent being sent home after treatment.

View the virtual tour here: .