It was a bright start to the long weekend for the team at Antser after they were named winners at the National Technology Awards last week for their partnership with Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT), using virtual reality (VR) to support foster placement stability.
As one of the UK’s leading health and social care technology providers, Antser won in the ‘Best Public Sector Project’ category in recognition of its use of Antser VR to improve the lives of looked after children.
NCT used Antser VR to help raise awareness among social care workers and foster carers of the long-term impact an adverse background can have on a child’s behaviour. By putting the viewer directly in the position of a child, the VR aims to increase empathy and modify behaviours of people working with and caring for children.
The award was particularly timely for Antser as it coincided with the end of Foster Care Fortnight, the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, run by The Fostering Network.
Richard Dooner, CEO of Antser, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this National Technology Award for our work with NCT. VR has been proven to be a consistently strong and effective tool for supporting foster carers, specifically where the team feels concerned about the progress or stability of placements and this award is recognition of the impact this technology can have and the achievements of all involved as a result of it being used.”
In one case, NCT managed to change the outcome of a placement facing potential disruption for the child due to the carer requiring a more therapeutic approach to their needs. Using VR, the carer was able to reflect, develop their understanding and change their behaviour resulting in better care of the foster child.
Following the training, 100 percent of respondents agreed the VR experience made them think differently and consider alternative ways to respond and make decisions in their approach to looked after children. In addition, 75% of new users said the VR provided them with a deeper understanding of issues from the child’s perspective.
Julian Wooster, Chair of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust said: “It is fantastic to be part of an award winning initiative helping both young people and foster carers across Northamptonshire form stronger relationships and develop resilience.
“Our carers do an incredible job of supporting our children to understand their past experiences and behaviour, whilst working with them to utilise therapeutic strategies, giving them firm foundations for their future. Together, we can make a real difference to a child or young person’s life.”
Antser currently works with 25 local authority fostering and adoption teams and four independent fostering and adoption agencies.
Richard said: “Our work with NCT proves the benefits of using immersive VR technology to provide better outcomes for children and young people. So many foster care placements can fall apart simply due to a lack of understanding, but by placing people directly in the shoes of the child, it can make a huge difference to people’s relationships.
“The examples we have had from NCT are outstanding and it just goes to show the power of empathy and a slight behaviour change can literally change lives. A huge congratulations to all involved in making this project such a success.”
For more information about Antser VR, click here.
To see the full list of 2023 National Technology Award winners, click here.