Wonder VR: creating bespoke VR360 with NHS patients to improve patient wellbeing in acute hospital settings (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)

Abraham, Nicola (2020) Wonder VR: creating bespoke VR360 with NHS patients to improve patient wellbeing in acute hospital settings (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission). The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, London. ISBN 978-1-8383967-0-1


Wonder VR offers new insights into the potential of Virtual Reality (VR) to improve patients’ experience and wellbeing in acute hospital settings. A collaboration with Dementia Care nursing staff and a Nurse Consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), the practice received the National Dementia Care Awards 2019 award for Outstanding Arts and Creativity in Dementia Care and The Guardian University Awards 2020 Teaching Excellence Award.

The practice responds to the broader context of an increasing ageing population in the UK, resulting in long hospital stays with risks of depression, isolation and diminished wellbeing. Using 360-degree VR (VR360), enhanced by facilitated intersection with the ‘real world’, the practice creates bespoke videos that offer older patients temporary respite from the hospital ward through experiencing places that are significant for them in terms of familiarity, memory or aspiration. The immersive, affective experience of VR360 counters patients’ lack of autonomy and sense of isolation thus improving their stay in hospital and increasing their wellbeing.

The practice is delivered through a developmental, collaborative and person-centred methodology. Patients participate in the creation of their own VR360 video, which further contributes to their sense of autonomy and, therefore, their wellbeing. The project has engaged with 10 patients across Charing Cross, St Mary’s and Hammersmith hospitals, which form ICHT. This multicomponent output comprises 7 bespoke videos, 2 demonstration videos for patients, 1 annotated training film of the practice to train nurses and to share the research with other medical staff, a peer-reviewed article in Contemporary Theatre Review (2020), presentations at Being Human: Different Stages (2019), a blog published on The Culture Capital Exchange (2020) and a framework of best practice for ICHT outlining the methodology and its capacity to deliver person-centred practice that attends to the needs of the individual patient.


Published Version - PDF (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)
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