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Virtual Reality can be used to improve social care training by creating more diverse and realistic learning scenarios. It can also be used to improve the actual delivery of these services. Here we take a look at how VR learning could pave the way for a new era of social care.

VR learning for foster carers

In 2017, the Cornerstone Partnership developed a VR learning programme that was designed to increase empathy in foster carers and adoptive parents.

The social enterprise has created a film which depicts life in care from the child’s point of view. It’s a gruelling but vital learning experience, as the simulation depicts child neglect and abuse through the eyes of the victim.

The Cornerstone Partnership’s Chief Executive, Helen Costa, is an adoptive parent herself. She said of the project: “We have a chance to recreate the empathy people felt when they first came forward to foster. I know how difficult it is to understand why children behave the way they do and to connect it to what happened in their early life. That connection took so much longer for me to make by reading and going on training courses. If I knew what I know now, I would have avoided some of the things I got wrong.”

Virtual Reality learning for care workers

Empathy was also at the forefront of Virtual Reality learning projects at Alzheimer’s Research UK. Working with Google and Visyon, they developed an app that conveyed the range of symptoms experienced by those with dementia.

Essex County Council Social Care Academy have now started using the programme as part of a wider VR learning initiative: the Virtual Dementia tour. Will Chaney, Workforce Capability Team Manager, said of the project: “The feedback from this type of experiential learning is extremely positive. We know that staff not only respond well to this type of learning, but also retain more knowledge and are more successful in bringing that knowledge to their role and changing their practice, compared with more traditional classroom-based training. We have already gathered data which shows how practice has changed for Dementia support.”

Virtual Reality in social care delivery

As well as improving the training experience for care workers, Virtual Reality can also be a useful tool in the delivery of care. The Wayback is a virtual reality film series designed for people with Alzheimer’s. The user can download the app for free. Once it’s loaded onto your smartphone, you simply slip the phone into a cardboard headset and watch the 360-degree film. It recreates positive moments from the past, giving the viewer an immersive trip down memory lane.

Virtual Reality in mental healthcare

An article by Open Access Government recently highlighted the potential use of Virtual Reality in the treatment of phobias and wide-ranging anxiety disorders through exposure therapy. One of the reasons for the success of VR in phobia therapy is that it provokes similar physical and emotional responses to real-life experiences. Therefore if you can recondition a patient’s response to a virtual reality spider, that reconditioning is more likely to carry over into real life.

Virtual Reality learning providers

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Virtual Reality learning could improve employee training or service delivery within your organisation, get in touch. Here at Absorb Reality we can help you design and deliver Virtual Reality courses that’ll take your training strategy to the next level.