A study carried out as part of the Government funded TechForce19 challenge has shown that when carers receive training via immersive digital technology, including VR, it can improve understanding of infection control measures by 76% and knowledge retention of health and safety guidelines by 230%.


The study

As part of a randomised control interventional study, carers were provided with training on hand washing, donning and doffing PPE, and responding to an unresponsive patient (including resuscitation). Half the group received their training via bespoke simulations provided by tech start-up Virti, accessed via their smartphones. The control group were provided with the standard education articles and videos provided in normal training.

50 carers (both professional and volunteer as defined by NHS commissioning guidelines) who had not previously received PPE training were recruited for the study. The content for the simulations was created at Southmead NHS Hospital and Torbay NHS Hospital.


The Results

On average, the carers training with the immersive technology (the intervention group) saw an increase in performance from pre to post-training knowledge test of 230.1%. This was compared to 16.75% for the control group, indicating significantly improved retention and application of training knowledge for those using the immersive technology.

Based on test scores, only 16% of the control group were deemed to have adequate understanding of infection control measures, compared to 92% of the intervention group – a difference of 76%.

The carers in the intervention group also reported lower levels of anxiety in relation to handling COVID-19 scenarios.

These findings highlight the need for effective, scalable, and safely accessible training for all carers.

The TechForce19 challenge awarded UK innovators supporting the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 grants of £25,000 to test their solution. Virti provides immersive digital training tools (including a combination of VR, AR and AI) that can be accessed via headsets, tablets or smartphones. Founded by NHS surgeon Dr Alex Young, the company has also been providing VR training for NHS workers throughout the pandemic.

Dr Alex Young, NHS surgeon and the founder of Virti, comments:

“As a surgeon, it’s critical to me that our technology is evidence-based. As we roll out a completely new way to train, we want our users and customers to continue to see this platform as effective and reliable. Ensuring our care workers have the training they need to keep themselves and their patients safe is of critical importance. Our care homes have taken the brunt of the impact during the pandemic, despite heroic efforts from staff, so we must ensure they are as prepared as possible to fight a potential second wave. This study is an important step forward in how we can help that happen safely and at scale. The impact of digital, immersive training when it comes to knowledge retention and in reducing anxiety is evident from the findings of this study. We hope it starts a conversation around how we can better prepare the workforce for the future and for the challenges employees in any sector face.”