Can VR change the way we tackle public health issues?

29th March 2019
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Can VR change the way we tackle public health issues?

It has been announced that The Cornerstone Partnership will showcase results from their work to test the use of Virtual Reality (VR) as a tool for use in children’s social work. They will be discussing the implications and applications of their work for wider social care and public health challenges. 

Cornerstone’s work to develop VR as an ‘intervention’ for use across adoption and fostering services is a world first and the results demonstrate that this technology is set to revolutionise social care settings.

Preliminary results paint a very promising picture of Cornerstone VR’s potential in getting children to the best path possible. Improved decision making and understanding of trauma, children’s emotions and potential triggers can help practitioners and policy makers implement more effective solutions.

Hosted by Immerse UK and Cornerstone, a panel of experts will examine the opportunities being presented by immersive technologies and how they are set to become mainstream tools in public services, particularly social care and public health. The panel will consider the implications of the highly significant social impacts demonstrated from 12-months of VR piloting across 30 local authorities and other organisations.

VR is one of the fastest growing areas in tech development and is predicted to be embedded in mainstream business operations over the next 3 years. Importantly, the methodology developed by Cornerstone has shown precisely how this can be achieved and its commercial application is immense, particularly in those industries where training and behaviour change are important such as pharmaceuticals, insurance, customer service led companies and B2B marketing.

Helen Costa, Cornerstone CEO, said: “We’ve spent 18-months developing and perfecting the application of VR in order to shift understanding and alter ingrained behaviours across a raft of settings in children’s social care. The outcomes for children who are in or have been in care are significantly worse than their peers across all key areas; education, health, career, rough-sleeping and mental health. 

“The reasons for that are complex but it is fundamentally about how we as adults and professionals get children on to the right path, quickly and with support, empathy and true understanding. The fact that our VR tool has shown exactly this impact in such a short space of time is beyond all our hopes and expectations. Crucially it illustrates the power of immersive technology in solving complex social issues. 

“Using technology as a behaviour change tool has enormous potential for some of our biggest societal challenges, whether that be tackling knife crime, obesity, or climate change. The common theme running through all of this is altering behaviour and I am delighted that we have found a way to harness the technology and show real results with real impact.”

Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of CAFCASS and Chair of Cornerstone’s Advisory Board, added: “VR is showing how step changes in approach and attitude are possible. The VR which has been developed and applied by Cornerstone shows how foster carers, adoptive carers and parents can understand the impact of major family issues like neglect and domestic abuse much quicker and in a much deeper way through being immersed in a VR experience, than is possible through conventional learning programmes. 

“I strongly believe that VR can have as similar positive impact on many of the social issues we face in Britain today, like excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, gambling addiction and crimes against the person. If courageous investments are made, the long-term savings both in expenditure and human misery will in my view be high.”

Fiona Kilkelly, Immerse UK, Knowledge Transfer Network Knowledge, explained: “Immersive Tech is a fast-growing industry with the potential to establish the UK as a world-leader in the use of VR for Social Impact. We are working with organisations, such as Cornerstone, to ensure that the support and investment is in place to maximise their potential.”


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