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NHS Trust Recognised for Deploying VR for Safeguarding Training

One of the fascinating things about technology is the way that an innovation causes another innovation; once a new technology emerges, it isn’t long before other developers find new and generally exciting ways of using it.

Virtual Reality was originally conceived for military, medical, and flight training aid, but when the concept of VR became a serious possibility for mass market applications, it was gaming that emerged as a clear winner. While the other industries embraced this highly usable resource, and quietly absorbed it, gaming was a lot louder in the use of VR. Driven by media tropes in film and on TV, VR was flaunted as the key to a new world where anything could happen, and game creators took up the mantle.

But in the background, other industries have continued to work with VR systems, and have attained truly astonishing results in a number of difficult areas.  Training is an obvious one since the ability to create a realistic environment in which the trainee can face real-world situations but without the jeopardy has undeniable benefits. Whether the training being undertaken is focused on a dangerous exercise, such as working in a nuclear power reactor, or expensive to do in reality, such as with a flight training. If training was seen as difficult for some reason, VR offers the potential for safe, cost-effective engagement and is growing in its stature.

Recently, the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Hospital Trust, collaborated with a Services supply company called Antser to deliver a series of training modules focused on safeguarding. The UK Care Act statutory guidance explains the act of safeguarding as being “recognition of an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances”. While this statement references adults, the safeguarding of children is even more stringent and regulated, and the training of staff to appreciate the requirements and develop the practice is a sizeable budget factor for health trusts.  

Little wonder then, that Trusts are keen to develop new and innovative ways of delivering training of this nature. Anster have perfected a system of VR-based training for healthcare and are in the process of rolling it out to a growing number of Trusts, and are now focusing on their flagship “behaviour change” training.  Delivered by VR, this training can be used to instruct healthcare professionals in the fast-paced world of ancillary requirements.

Anster have used VR training to show that this is the future of delivery of this kind of content. With Trusts giving highly positive feedback, it is fast becoming obvious that to deliver training modules in any other way is outdated and time-consuming. VR means that people from different areas – and even continents, if necessary – can participate, and it speeds up the delivery of training as well as making it more immersive.

The Anster safeguarding training has been well received, and it is likely to be rolled out to other parts of the NHS, once they tool up with suitable VR headsets, and when that is done, Trusts will want to capitalise on their purchases by increasing the uptake of VR training. Whether the safeguarding training will significantly alter delivery of the content on wards remains to be seen, but we can be fairly certain that from this point on, the entire face of NHS training is going to change, and that will help everyone.