VR at Sowenna

VR at Sowenna Header

Virtual Reality (VR) projects which have a direct impact on patient care, education and training of staff are a growing area of innovation within the healthcare sector.

The Sowenna VR project consists of a partnership between CFT and Falmouth University with funding supplied by the Invictus Trust, The Carew Pole Charitable Trust and VerseOne Technologies. The project is developing an initial set of VR sensory environments to be used within a controlled area to reduce anxiety and stress. These environments would be adjustable and moderated and are being developed in co-operation with Young People Cornwall (YPC) who will provide the User Experience (UX) group. 

The project is being supported by a research study to determine whether the project has reached its desired aim.

The VR environments are expected to be launched on the unit in June 2021.

The short film below describes the design day held at Falmouth University for the Sowenna Virtual Reality Sensory Environments. Young people from across Cornwall came to together to experience VR and come up with the environments that the SERCH Project will be building for the Sowenna Unit.

Director/Editor: Gemma Wearing Sound: William Tanner

The short video below explains what we hope to achieve with the VR Project, our partners, timeframes and costs. watch with the sound on for a calming and relaxing experience.

Latest news

March 2021

We have delivered testing and training to 27 staff at the Sowenna unit.

We presented this in 4 parts:

  • an overview of the project
  • how the application works
  • giving everyone a chance to experience the VR environments
  • changes and additions that staff would like to see future environments development.

The response to the testing and training was fantastic, everyone was very enthusiastic and engaged. They could all see the benefits to the patients both as inpatients and day visitors. They were also able to pick up the handling of the controllers and movement and interactions around the environments much quicker than we expected. We think that every single person who attended was able to add to the project with ideas and future developments.

It became apparent early on that there would need to be some changes before allowing patient use: ​switch to Occulus Quest 2 wireless headsets and controllers to reduce risk factor and increase usability some additional audio work for both environments some additional interactions with animals some tweaking to the research protocol and forms

The switch to Occulus Quest 2 headsets is a major factor. When we officially proposed and procured the project wireless VR was not available but the delay has meant that the industry has moved along. The wireless sets are:

  • ​​lighter
  • have no wires
  • are easier to clean
  • reduce risk
  • no longer require light boxes to be installed in the sensory room easier to store and set up.

We are glad to report that the procurement of the new hardwarehas been completed and the environment enhancements have been installed. 

We are proposing to carry out additional final training week commencing June 2021 and an open day for sponsors, supporters and our Exec Team shortly after (within Covid guidelines). The first patients will start using the sets from mid June 2021. There will also be a press day scheduled once patients and staff have had some experience with the environments.

Get a first look at the 3 films that have been created for the SERCH VR environments that will be deployed in the Sowenna Unit in January. The films are 2D versions of the environments.

Lobby area

Zen Garden

Big Sky

If anyone requires more information on CFT and VR please contact: laurens.vandereyken@nhs.net