As UK mental health services continue to face record-breaking demand post-pandemic, fresh reports are highlighting the levels of inequality and discrimination that are hampering staff retention and service operation. Access to training is proving a major barrier to the delivery of effective equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) measures.
In line with a national-level push to improve EDI in healthcare settings, Virti has partnered with researchers from Maudsley Learning at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) to build cutting-edge VR simulations for frontline mental health staff diversity and inclusion training.
Our platform is being embraced as a low-cost and easily scalable EDI solution by organisations including King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Health Education England.
How the training works
Alongside the Maudsley Learning team, we’ve created a set of unique immersive VR scenarios to be rolled out to healthcare staff. They will be able to access them using VR headsets, or via their own mobile devices, making training easily accessible and cost-effective.
Learners enter an immersive and realistic environment to practice skills like empathy, inclusion and interpersonal awareness before applying them on the ward. Users are immersed as bystanders in a scenario where discrimination is taking place and guided to identify and correctly react to the negative behaviours being displayed.
Educators can then use the scenarios as a springboard for discussion in a structured debrief conversation. Unlike traditional in-person role play or textbook training resources, the immersive VR simulations will support learners to spot micro-behaviours and instances of discrimination in a hype-realistic, low-risk environment.
Virti's analytics platform allows access to an array of data on learner performance, including decision speed and accuracy, and user engagement. This can then be used to improve the scenarios and finetune training on an ongoing basis.
James Pathan, Head of Operations at Maudsley Learning, comments:
“Immersive VR technology has huge potential to transform the way that we train healthcare staff. In busy hospital environments, it’s near impossible to find the time and resources that are needed to deliver effective upskilling programmes, but recent innovations in VR tech have the potential to offer a very impactful solution.
“A major advantage is the scalability of the technology, and the potential to reach more of the workforce with lower cost, experiential training. Having this training placed on wards allows staff to access learning at their own convenience. Workplace based, in-situ training takes the training out of the classroom and directly to the learners.
“Our research has shown that learners undergoing immersive simulation training not only learn more quickly, retain information for longer and are more engaged with the content. The team here at Maudsley Learning are very excited by the opportunities that this technology has to offer the healthcare education sector at this time of intensified need.”
The aim of the simulations being used for diversity and inclusion training is more than just raising awareness or spotting signs of exclusionary behaviour - they are designed to help the learner really empathise and emotionally connect with the characters, providing a better understanding of how discrimination can be perpetuated in subtle yet harmful ways.
Future plans for the project include developing VR training simulations for other areas of training, including teaching mental health staff how to handle violent or confrontational situations without the use of physical restraint.