Combined Virtual Reality (CVR)

In March 2022, Combined Healthcare was proud to launch a new addition to its portfolio of communications products and channels - Combined Virtual Reality (CVR).

Combined Virtual Reality harnesses the latest innovations in communications tools and techniques.

Virtual reality is an experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment, education, medical training and business (such as virtual meetings). Other distinct types of VR-style technology include augmented reality and mixed reality, sometimes referred to as extended reality or XR.

Virtual reality systems use either virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual environment.  A person using virtual reality equipment is able to look around the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. 

The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes, but can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens. Virtual reality typically incorporates auditory and video feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory and force feedback through haptic technology.

Virtual Reality wellbeing support for frontline staff

Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit staff at Combined are the first to become involved in a pilot program of Virtual Reality Wellbeing Sessions delivered in partnership with Phase Space VR.

Phase Space’s unique approach uses Virtual Reality to supercharge stress and anxiety relief in minutes, with effects that last. Driven by cutting-edge innovation, it combines immersive technology, world-class content design and evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

In the pilot, staff will have the opportunity to de-stress and reduce anxiety by using a VR headset to experience a short calming experience in which they enter a virtual reality world consisting of an imagined welcome hall, relaxing graphics and soothing commentary.

The aim of the pilot is to assess the degree and speed which this experience can reduce feelings of anxiety or distress amongst frontline staff encountering stressful or challenging situations.

The first weekly session took place on 19th of February 2024 and staff had the opportunity to immerse themselves into a short calming experience. An evaluation is taking place of the effectiveness with a view to potentially expanding this out to other staff within the trust.

Delirium Training – our first CVR output

To mark international World Delirium Awareness Day on 16th March 2022, we are proud that our first CVR output was a highly innovative training VR film to help frontline healthcare staff create conversations, increase understanding and empathy towards those with delirium and encourage us all to ‘think delirium’.

The film places the viewer inside the head of a patient with delirium in a hospital bed.  We see what the patient sees, hear the thoughts in her head and experience some aspects of what delirium causes her to see.   This includes delusions that staff are conspiring to poison her and fellow patients and dispose of their bodies, that the building is under attack and that air raid sirens are going off.

The staff caring for this patient are unaware of these thoughts and perceptions and they struggle to understand why the patient is behaving as she does, so they respond in a less than helpful way.  They also forget to place back her glasses or to turn on her hearing aide, adding to her distress.  Eventually, a member of staff DOES recognise her distress and comes to her help.  

You can watch the training video below either through a VR headset (such as Oculus Quest) or in a normal web browser, using drag and move to experience the 360 degree effect.

To mark World Delirium Awareness Day 2024, Combined Healthcare was proud to announced that its highly innovative Virtual Reality Delirium Training film has gone international, with the launch of a Danish language version, produced in partnership with Gødstrup Hospital, Herning, Denmar

Robbie Williams in VR!

The culmination of our REACH 2022 Awards in November 2022 was this special version of Angels – performed by Robbie Williams and the dDeaflinks Choir – presented here in a special Virtual Reality format.

Before the song, Robbie paid this tribute to the wonderful staff of North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

“Mental Health Reflections – Past. Present.  Future.  Vault” – a unique multi-media exhibition to celebrate the NHS 75 Birthday

To mark the NHS 75th Birthday on 5th July 2023, we were proud to unveil a truly groundbreaking multi-media exhibition to mark an historic anniversary – “Mental Health Reflections. Past. Present. Future. Vault.”

This features 40 videos of our staff and service users covering reflections and memories over 45 years.  You can watch all of the videos and/or download the exhibition book – featuring the full transcripts of every reflection.

The exhibition also included a unique Virtual Reality experience, delivered in partnership with Staffordshire University.

Click on the picture below to visit and experience the Exhibition and watch the video featuring key players from the Trust and Staffordshire University talking about their collaboration.

Click on the image above to visit the Reflections Exhibition

Marking the end of Project Chrysalis Stage One with virtual walkthrough

In June 2023, we were proud and delighted to announce that, as a result of the biggest single capital investment at Combined Healthcare since the creation of Harplands Hospital, the first of our new facilities being delivered through Project Chrysalis has now gone live

Project Chrysalis sets out to further improve the inpatient facilities and patient experiences at Harplands Hospital, including a new 16-bed ward, with individual en-suite bedrooms, assisted bathrooms, a gym facility and more. The interior decorations of the new ward are being co-designed with service users to ensure the space, garden and facilities on-site are inclusive and welcoming to them.

To coincide with the ‘go live’ milestone being reached, we unveiled a fantastic virtual reality walkthrough of the new faciltiies, so that our staff, stakeholders, service users and their families can experience Project Chrysalis for themselves.

The walkthrough can be viewed on any web browser – or for the full virtual reality experience, via a VR headset such as a Meta Quest.  It enables the user to navigate through the full facilities as if they are physically in the environment.

The Project Chrysalis VR Walkthrough is available for free below:


Combined Services Virtual Reality Walkthroughs Library

Our library of Virtual Reality Walkthroughs is being built to provide engaging and informative experiences of our facilities and locations.  By doing this we hope to break down stigmas, as well as increase our openness and accessibility, particularly for service users and their families who might be nervous about engaging with our services.

.The walkthroughs can be viewed in situ on this page, in full screen mode on any web browser or – for the most immersive experience – on a VR headset such as Oculus.  To navigate through the walkthrough, users can select and click on the white hyperlink circles that appear on the screen.  

They have been viewed over 1,000 times since launch and have really caught the imagination of our frontline staff.

Combined VR – the next steps

The examples above are only the first steps in Combined Healthcare’s vision for its CVR offering.  Over the coming weeks and months, the Trust will be bringing forward:
  • Further Virtual Reality walkthroughs of its clinical areas and services, so that potential service users and their families can learn about the care they will receive and facilities available before entering treatment
  • Virtual Reality Recorded and Live Events – to enable the widest possible participation from people and communities for whom attending in person might be difficult or inconvenient
  • The Lawton Hub Virtual Room – a hugely innovative digital space, featuring state of the art digital walls, to deliver a stunning new experience for events, meetings, inductions, Organisational Development and training activities.

Commenting on the Trust’s CVR vision, Asscciate Director of Communications, Joe McCrea said:

“One of the jewels in the Combined crown is our passionate commitment to – and brilliant track record in – the very best in digital communications and engagement.  So it’s no surprise to see us pushing the boat out in our adoption and use of Virtual Reality.   This latest innovation joins a growing list of similar innovations, such as our entirely digital 2021 REACH staff awards, our pioneering use of digital avatars and, of course, our Podcast – “Combinations”.

 “And we’ve not stopped there.  This year has seen us deliver a slew of fantastic developments in our adoption of use of Virtual Reality.  It’s a fantastic and exciting journey to be on.”