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Exciting Virtual Reality collaboration project awarded £900,000

Blue box with words press release

16 June 2023

Hywel Dda UHB has collaborated with Swansea University on a high-tech initiative to develop specialist virtual reality training for healthcare professionals has secured a major funding boost.

The project, called “Virtual Reality a Welsh Reality”, has been awarded almost £900,000 to expand immersive learning by creating a series of bespoke training modules in both English and Welsh.

Swansea University’s Director of Simulation Education, Associate Professor Joanne Davies, who submitted the successful funding bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, is overseeing SUSiM, Swansea University’s specialist centre and programme to develop ground-breaking simulation and immersive education.

“The use of VR will allow us to enhance our blended learning approaches to education and offer the opportunity to train individuals and teams in an immersive, engaging, and flexible way. It is more relevant than ever to help break the boundaries of when and where education can occur, especially with current pressures on all parts of the service.”

The health board has partnered with Swansea University to develop modules and ensure they meet high standards of clinical education for undergraduate learners and healthcare professionals throughout Wales.

The Health Board’s Director of People Development, Amanda Glanville said: ‘This is an exciting time for Hywel Dda working in partnership with Swansea University, especially as simulation is the key driver of our newly launched Interprofessional Education Plan.’

‘This project will create a platform where other health boards can benefit as well firm foundation to continue the growth of Interprofessional education and the use of simulation in our people development activities. Having now made significant progress towards this collaborative project, we are already seeing the impact, and this is an exciting time for the Health Board.’

The Virtual Reality modules will be designed for multi-professional use and will include topics such as healthcare team and communication scenarios, emergency management cases, patient empathy cases, and a variety of healthcare training related scenarios and skill practice sessions.

The modules will also play an important role by providing information for research project examining the effectiveness of VR training across the health professions. Students and healthcare specialists will be invited to be part of the design and piloting phases of the VR build, and the team is now tendering for an innovative VR development company to create the modules.

This VR project will serve to further the journey towards simulation-based education. Simulation based education will help overcome the time, pace, and logistics of training in person across rural areas. The health board recognises that simulation-based education is a way forward and the need to grasp the opportunity to develop our approach to simulation-based education.

Hywel Dda UHB also has an ongoing partnership with Swansea University to help grow all forms of simulation-based learning, support individual learning, and enhance team and system performance.