Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has successfully used virtual reality (VR) technology for the first time to provide immersive learning experiences for staff in equality, diversity and inclusion training. The pilot project, in partnership with leading VR company Kiin (formerly known as Virtual Bodyworks), has shown overwhelmingly positive results, with 97% of participants saying they would recommend the training to their colleagues.
Delivering the training through VR allowed Trust staff who took part to experience situations while ‘embodied’ as different colleagues in a scenario – an experience impossible to replicate in real life. This has enhanced participants’ understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with many reporting that the VR experience helped them to better understand and relate to the perspectives of others.
“We are thrilled with the results of this pilot,” said Charlie Pearmund, Chief Executive Officer at Kiin. “Our VR technology provides a unique and powerful learning experience that can help organisations like Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts. We look forward to working with more NHS organisations in the future to help them create more inclusive and diverse workplaces.”
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust also praised the pilot, stating that it was an effective way to engage staff and improve understanding of diversity and inclusion issues. “We are committed to creating a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming to all, and this pilot has shown us the potential of VR technology to help us achieve that goal,” said Harry Sarsah, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the Trust.
The pilot was funded by CW+, the charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with the Rosetrees Trust and Kusuma Trust, and supported by CW Innovation, a programme that brings together expertise at the Charity and the Trust to test, implement and scale high-impact innovations that benefit patients and the Trust. “Innovation will be key to delivering the healthcare service of the future,” said Chris Chaney, Chief Executive of CW+. “This project shows the positive role that VR can play in helping to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients and staff, which can help to break down barriers and improve access to care. We are very proud to have been able to co-fund this pilot through our grants scheme and to offer project support through the CW Innovation programme.”
Kiin and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have now been awarded funding from NHS England to develop VR Civility and Respect training, due to be piloted at NHS Trusts across North West London in 2023. They believe that this technology can provide valuable and effective learning experiences that can help promote empathy, understanding and ultimately a more inclusive and equitable society.