Dorothy House wins award for Virtual Reality project

Dorothy House is delighted to be a part of the Immersive Technology in Healthcare Team which has recently been awarded the Royal United Hospital (RUH) Staff Research and Innovation Award 2022-23 for a virtual reality (VR) project.

Karen Tudge, Assistant Director of Patient & Family Services at Dorothy House and representatives of many multidisciplinary teams across the hospice have been working on the service improvement project since 2021 alongside Dr. Darren Hart (Clinical Scientist and other RUH colleagues.

Dorothy House wins virtual reality award

When hearing news of the RUH award, Karen Tudge said;

“The collaborative approach – combining Dorothy House’s expertise with Darren and his RUH team’s technical skills and vision has been key to the success of this work.

Our mission at Dorothy House is to ensure everyone has access to outstanding palliative and end of life care. We always focus on what matters most to our patients, so offering a personal, accessible experience which is proving to reduce pain and anxiety is really exciting. This technology has a huge amount of scope, and we’re really keen to see how it can benefit not only our patients, but also be more broadly be applied to other areas of patient care.”

About the Dorothy House and RUH team’s Virtual Reality project

The VR project, funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation via Hospice UK and their ‘Re-imagining Day Patient Services’ funding programme, trials the use of VR to help reduce symptoms and improve relaxation in patients. Using 360°cameras, the team have been creating immersive videos that virtually transport patients outdoors, and are working on personalising these videos to allow an even more impactful experience.

At Dorothy House, we are currently using the VR headsets successfully with patients experiencing pain and anxiety. To date the technology has been available to all day patients, respite and blood transfusion patients. Results have been so successful that we are now investigating how to widen the reach and roll it out to the Inpatient Unit and into the community.

The VR project findings and next steps

Patients trialling the technology are showing improvements in pain and anxiety scores, and we are gaining positive qualitative insights through patient interviews. Patients have particularly appreciated the personalised element of selecting the experience, for example going on a virtual walk around a familiar site, which they have visited in real life, such as Stonehenge.

The next step is to pilot the RUH system which stores content securely on the cloud.  This provides additional flexibility and enables use also at home, on personal phones or tablets.  Family or friends will also be able to borrow a 360 camera kit to record favourite locations or activities and enable patients to experience truly personalised content.