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Devon trials AR headsets in care settings

Devon trials AR headsets in care settings
By Julie Griffiths
23 January 2024

A council in Devon is one of the first in the UK to trial pioneering augmented reality (AR) technology for homecarers and care homes to reduce demand on healthcare services.

Devon Training Hub, part of NHS Devon, partnered with Insight Enterprises in the trial to supply caregivers with Microsoft HoloLens technology headsets, which combine the real world with the digital world through a transparent visor.

The trial showed AR technology could enhance care and reduce the need for clinicians to attend in person.

It found that the equipment helped when a carer in someone’s home or a residential setting suspected a health issue they were not trained to assess or diagnose. The AR technology enabled them to connect to a more qualified or experienced colleague quickly.

The trial also found that the ability to bring clinicians onto a virtual call via the HoloLens headset removed the need for healthcare professionals to make on-site visits.

This reduced the time to deliver assistance and the demand on healthcare services. 

John Bryant, integration lead of social care at Devon Training Hub and head of integration and development at Torbay Council, said: ‘What we’re doing is looking at technology and asking how it can enable people to perform better, enjoy their work more and provide even better outcomes for patients, clients and staff.’

He added that the benefits of using AR headset technology ‘have surpassed our expectations’.

Demand for social care services in the region has increased significantly over the last few years, largely due to an ageing population.

According to recent figures from Torbay Council, there were 1,775 people receiving home care support in Torbay last year, with a further 949 in permanent residential placements.

Provision of adult social care in the region is delivered by 3,500 people and a third of them (33.8%) leave their posts each year, according to figures from Skills for Care.

Coupled with the increasing demand, the high staff turnover puts added strain on the service.

Following the pilot’s success, there are plans to expand the use of HoloLens AR technology in the region. 

Insight and south-west partners have developed a network of local champions, providing them with the materials and skills to run awareness and end-user training sessions.

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