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How VR Has Evolved To Be A Great Training Tool For Care Staff


Virtual reality (VR) technology has been around for much longer than you might think. Systems like the Sensorama were developed as far back as the 1950s to provide a lifelike form of entertainment. However, it was not until the advent of the digital age that people started to think about the possible uses for VR outside of games and entertainment. By the early 1990s, NASA was using its own computerised VR system to train its astronauts. These days, VR is used in many professional fields. It is used to train firefighters in simulated blazes, for example. In addition, many professional healthcare institutions use VR training systems to help doctors and nurses to keep their skills up to date.


Using Digital Technology To Care For Our Community

At Anglian Care, we are proud of our uptake of digital technology. It helps us to keep our clients’ care plans up to date and to share information in a safe and secure way. We also use it to help our care workers do their jobs in a more efficient manner without having to rely on a paper-based system or coming into the office all of the time. That’s part of the reason why we are pairing up with another company to deliver some Virtual Reality dementia training.

vr training

Virtual Reality Training For Our Staff

For the team at Anglian Care, it makes perfect sense to make use of VR for this sort of training because it makes for a much more immersive and realistic experience. This is quite a novel idea still within the care sector so we are proceeding in a way that we are sure others will follow in time. Of course, VR technology isn’t only used for specialist work, like dementia training, because it has a raft of other uses in the care sector today, as well.

For one thing, VR training has already been shown to be a highly effective countermeasure in dealing with the spread of infections. A study that was funded by the UK government a couple of years ago looked into the specific benefits that might be gained in infection control in care settings if VR was deployed. The study was a timely one because it dealt with hand-washing routines and the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) just as the global healthcare emergency was taking hold.


What the researchers found was that those who underwent training that was assisted by VR systems would improve their understanding of infection control measures by as much as 76 per cent compared with a control group who had normal training. Perhaps even better, the study concluded that knowledge retention of the relevant health and safety guidelines surrounding infection control rose by a stunning 230 per cent when VR was used.


This particular research programme used a group of 50 carers who had not previously undergone such training. Simulations were created at Southmead NHS Hospital and Torbay NHS Hospital to assess how well the volunteers in the research performed after their training. Clearly, VR had a big part to play in how successful the training was because the results were so different when compared to the control group. Of course, this is just one study but it points to the effectiveness of VR as a learning aid. Simply put, people who are trained using this sort of technology feel closer to the sort of experience they’d have caring in the real world. As such, knowledge and good working practices tend to stick that much better.


VR Adoption Increasing Across the Board

It is not just physical or procedural training that can be boosted by VR either. One London Borough is already rolling out VR training for its social care staff. The London borough of Hillingdon began using VR to help carers learn more about autism in 2019. The VR tool the local authority has been using seems to work, too. By far the majority of people who have been trained in autism awareness using the VR system report that they think that it offered them further insights into the condition, something that would, in turn, lead to them considering how best to alter their approach with autistic people in their care.

The South-London based mental health foundation, the Maudsley Charity, also makes use of VR training. It says that there are multiple advantages of using VR, for example, allowing staff to deal with unfamiliar or challenging situations in a safe, virtual environment. They also advocate for VR as a way of enhancing critical thinking and decision-making in the care sector. That’s something that rings true from our use of technology in dementia care training, too.