Virtual reality headsets provide real-life education experiences

Virtual reality (VR) headsets are very common on the online gaming world, but they are now being used to assist with providing world-class healthcare to our patients.

Staff from Central Adelaide Local Health Network recently collaborated with Adelaide University and South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) to deliver a mental health immersion learning experience.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital Emergency Department (ED) experiences a significant number of patients presenting with complex behaviours, including approximately 350 patients per month requiring mental health consults. A training needs analysis identified that there was a gap in knowledge about mental health presentations, restrictive practice and challenging behaviours.

“We collaborated with Adelaide University and SAAS to create an immersion learning experience, which involved the Adelaide Uni Sim Team engaging with mental health consumers who shared their story with some actors and we pre filmed scenarios, featuring common ED presentations,” said Madeleine Baillie, Clinical Practice Director Acute and Urgent Care at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“The learning package also includes an online learning module and face to face lectures (as part of the VR workshop). The VR experience included watching the pre filmed scenarios and a facilitated debrief to discuss learnings and what we might ‘do differently’.”

Feedback from the immersion sessions was positive and included:

“It was incredibly insightful to sit back and observe the entire patient experience.”

“The VR experience was fantastic. I could put myself in the position and perspective of the patient, and I truly felt emotions within that experience.”

“It was worth watching two examples (to learn) how we can change our approach in dealing with different presentations with different approach.”

The VR headsets could be used into the future for additional education experiences, including some geriatric and dementia-specific scenarios to upskill staff.

Image by Michael Gilmour, Adelaide Health Simulation at Adelaide University.