VR in Fostering: Case Study 1 - Antser

VR in Fostering: Case Study 1

VR in Fostering: Case Study 1

In early 2021, Antser partnered with Flourish Fostering, an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ therapeutic provider of care for children and young people, supporting them to become one of the first independent providers in the UK to use Antser’s pioneering virtual reality (VR) technology across their services.

Over the past two years, Antser VR has been implemented across the organisation to upskill staff and foster parents by enhancing their understanding of trauma and, through their informed care, provide better outcomes for children and young people.

Fostering for over a decade, Sharon Hausrath, a Flourish Fostering Foster Parent, sits down to share her advice and experience of VR training

Working in several management roles in and out of the Sales and Hospitality industry, Sharon Hausrath moved away from home and decided to embark on a new journey. Not wanting to work in London, Sharon and her partner thought now was the best time to try their hand at fostering.

Sharon went on to join Flourish Fostering, an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ independent fostering organisation. Sharon said: “What attracted me to fostering was at my previous job, I met Mica Douglas (Managing Director) and Nicola Tunbridge (Director), I got to learn more about Flourish Fostering’s therapeutic training, and it was the opportunity to learn and develop that attracted me. The training and development that’s around for me have certainly made me feel like I am equipped to look after children.”

With a mixture of respite, short-term and long-term placements, Sharon has seen all sides of fostering. Sharon added: “We did respite for quite a while, which was interesting, but I have three children in placement now and two of them I have had in my care for six years.”

“Originally coming to our family for an emergency placement at 6 pm on the 23rd of December, they are both still here with me to this day. I have another child who is 9 years old, and he’s been with us for two years now. It really doesn’t feel like a job, but it feels like we have managed to help so many children in that time.

Led by therapeutically trained social workers, Flourish Fostering work with their Foster Parents to train and help them become the best professional parents they can be.

With a strong interest in training and learning, Sharon shared her experience on virtual reality training with Antser and Flourish Fostering. Stating that VR has helped advance her knowledge and understanding, Sharon said:

“Even with a master’s degree in Therapy to Fostering and Adoption, the VR training allowed me to learn something very new and although I am highly qualified and knew a lot about trauma and neglect, I found the Virtual Reality training offered an insight that all the other training I have had over the years never did.”

“Training with the perspective of a VR headset touches a different part of your learning. You’re more aware of what situations must feel like. Using the headset, it gives a different perspective, and allows you to fully see different environments of what it must be like as a child.”

Reflecting on her first thoughts about the VR training, Sharon said: “I had two thoughts. Firstly, I was quite intrigued as I hadn’t really used VR before but secondly, I was curious to see how VR could make a difference to my learning. I also felt interested to see how the VR would help me feel more involved in understanding how children in foster care feel.”

The innovative training has allowed Sharon, as a Foster Parent, to walk in the footsteps of a vulnerable young child. Adding to this, Sharon said: “The first training we experienced was called the ‘Unborn Child’ and I have had the experience of a child living in a home that had suffered this trauma. I had previously read a lot about this subject matter but coming at it with the perspective of the VR headset, touches a different part of your learning.”

“Your emotions are heightened of what it must be like for the child as the VR headset puts you in the footsteps of the child and it makes you realise how scary the situations are that children could find themselves in.”

VR brings training to life. Sharon added: “After watching the Young Aisha film, to be in that room and that environment, looking around, you can’t understand that when just reading information and statistics. The VR brings situations to life, and you are able to understand and empathise what a child’s life has been like.”

Heightening the importance that not only Foster Parents but professionals can benefit from the VR training, Sharon shared: “I think it would be very valuable for other professionals and not just Foster Parents to view these situations from this point of view. I would advocate this VR training for specific children, education providers and health providers who are struggling to understand children.”

To find out more about the Antser Virtual Reality Programme, click here.

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