Virtual reality training to revolutionise disability support sector

We've unveiled a prototype virtual reality (VR) learning tool for disability support workers.

September 5, 2018

After a year in the making, we have unveiled our prototype virtual reality (VR) learning tool for disability support workers.

The VR learning prototype offers support staff the opportunity to experience and learn about possible high risk situations in a safe and realistic way. House with No Steps (now Aruma) embarked on developing the prototype in July 2017, after receiving $200,000 from the National Disability Services (NDS) Innovative Workforce Fund.

“Virtual reality is a powerful tool. We want to harness it to help our support workers learn safely about high risk workplace situations. Having well-trained, dedicated staff is at the heart of our commitment to provide outstanding support to our customers.

“We definitely see how our prototype can be used not only within our organisation, but throughout the disability services sector, to complement other methods of training,” said Andrew Richardson, CEO.

The prototype was developed in partnership with UNSW and the Centre for Social Impact. Support workers were closely involved in the design process.

Felicity Nelson, our Strategic Innovation Lead, said the input from support staff was crucial to this project.

“We interviewed dozens of support staff across both rural and metro areas. It was important for us to learn about the complex needs they encounter on a daily basis. Feedback from support staff who tested the prototype was also incredibly useful – we made sure we incorporated their input into successive iterations of the prototype,” she said.

House with No Steps (now Aruma) completed testing of the VR learning prototype in late June. The organisation recently submitted a report with their recommendations back to NDS.

“Developing the prototype is really just the start of our journey. We want to pilot the experience with groups of staff and trainers across our organisation – we want them to start to incorporate it as part of their training. We’re hoping to find some additional funding to help us take this exciting development forward,” said Ms Nelson.