Home » Our work » Case Study – HCA Immersive Learning Experience

Emotionally preparing Health Care Assistants for the reality of frontline work

An innovative, immersive, and impactful VR training experience

Shared objectives

Recognizing that immersive learning could play an important role in addressing these challenges, Telford College approached us to design and develop a VR experience to give student HCAs the skills they needed to prepare for life in a hospital, care setting, or patient’s home.

As soon as we read the brief, we realized the importance of creating a best-in-class and revolutionary solution to address the healthcare industry’s challenges:

  • Minimize employee churn
  • Improve the recruitment process
  • Improve graduates’ resilience
  • Improve the quality of care

Our insight

The emotional pressures of the role

We interviewed trainee HCAs, qualified HCAs, healthcare professionals and the team at Telford College to get a clearer understanding of the challenges. We also spoke to some former HCAs to get their perspectives on job retention. This collaborative approach, which gave us access to busy health care professionals at work, brought one key factor to the forefront:


“Trainees were largely confident in their practical skills, but were not emotionally prepared for the challenges they would face.”

Our solution

Design-led thinking, targeted learning, and powerful storytelling

Our VR experience aims to instill confidence and empower healthcare students, by equipping them with the skills and strategies to manage the emotionally demanding aspects of their work.


We carefully crafted three VR scenarios to evoke particular emotions as the different patient stories unfold: a hospital A&E department, a patient’s home and a residential care home. Each informed by our audience interviews, they would feel as real as possible and allow our learners to immerse themselves fully, weaving in key decision points allowing users to make choices in response to the scenario and deepen their engagement.

Having been able to experience emotionally difficult situations in a safe space, outside of the VR, learners discuss their responses in a supportive classroom environment with their peers.


From our visits to college and healthcare settings, we understood the need to carefully consider every element in creating an authentic – and emotive – experience. A cast of talented, professional actors were chosen to voice our characters, with care taken to reflect regional accents and the sensitive nature of our scenarios.

The low-poly design of each environment enables users to focus on the narrative of the main characters and key interactions. Each set uses specific lighting and color schemes, to reflect the mood and remain distinctive.

Authentic spatial sound design and careful orchestration of character proximity also further rooted the user in the scenario and connected them to the virtual world.


Meet our characters…

Meet Martha

Confrontation in a care home

Dealing with aggression and confusion in dementia patients can make an HCA feel scared and vulnerable. Tonight, we’ll become the lightning rod for Martha’s frustration.

Meet Dennis

Sensory overload in A&E

Our research told us that the noise of alarms, time pressures and lists of tasks all contributed to feeling overwhelmed on occasion. Tasked with one-on-one care, we’ll struggle to care for our patient Dennis under the bombardment of external pressures.

Meet Alice

Loss and powerlessness in a domestic setting

Knowing how to deal with and recover from a medical emergency is a key skill for any HCA. Our visit to Alice, a lady we’ve built a relationship with over many weeks, will take an unexpected, tragic turn.


Caroline Bastow

Head of Quality and Learning

What our client said

It’s going to change the way we approach education… It’s an absolute gamechanger.

What the students said