Over the past five years, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been laying the foundations to implement the next generation of healthcare – new technologies, design and systems that will transform the way we care for patients. As part of our arts in health programme, we are working with a diverse range of health technology partners as well as renowned and emerging artists, architects and designers. Our aim is to further invest in healthcare technology to elevate patient care and empower and enhance our staff.
Our award-winning RELAX Digital programme uses moving imagery and installations to distract and relax patients in waiting and treatment areas. To build on this, we continue to commission artists to work with immersive, virtual and mixed reality. These include virtual landscapes/skyscapes and projects that bring the outside world into our hospitals.
We have commissioned works by RCA graduates, emerging artists and established artists such as Brian Eno and Isaac Julien. We also continue to explore the relationship between moving image and sound as an immersive experience.
In partnership with DR.VR by Rescape Innovation, we have facilitated several Virtual Reality (VR) studies at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital. These include an evaluation in Children’s A&E and Burns around the use of VR to improve anxiety and pain levels; a Sleep Study in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU), monitoring the effect of VR on sleep quality in the ICU environment; and a Cardiac Catheter Lab study (CLeVR) assessing the outcomes of VR with patient anxiety, pain, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac autonomics and respiratory rate. These innovative ongoing studies combine clinical observation, patient questionnaires and clinician lead research, with a bespoke VR kit and data collection equipment.
We have collaborated with film artist Leon Ancliffe from Flix Films to create a series of bespoke VR footage that patients can view using a Virtual Reality headset. Scenes include Clapham Common, Kew Gardens, Richmond Park and a view from the Thames River.
Deer in Richmond Park
A boat ride along The Thames
A new project, MyHospital – Technology Enhanced Patient Care, will enable inpatients to have more control of their immediate environment. Digital sensors will monitor light levels, acoustics and temperature to be then controlled from a patients’ bedside. This project will also form part of the first research study of its kind in the UK – in partnership with Imperial Health and Sonitus Systems.
ROBOTICS AND AI
Our digital health and robotics programme to aid patient wellbeing and recovery launched in 2015 with the Breathing Stone. To further develop this programme, we are exploring new and innovative ways to combine technology and healthcare in an acute environment.
This has expanded into working with robotic companion pets Miro and Paro. Developed by Consequential Robotics, Miro is an artificial dog-like pet who responds to voice, movement, touch and sight through built in sensors and sensory recognition. Similarly, Paro is a tactile pet developed for interaction with older patients, developed by AIST. Another ‘companion’ innovation is under development by artist Min Young Kim in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University. This is in the form of a bedside virtual flower which can be interacted with by patients, to create the sense of nature, life and growth in a clinical setting.
Genesis Arts, founded by Zheyuan Zhang, are in the initial pilot stages of their Immersive Healing Arts project. The multi-screen digital artwork is location in the Level 5 Sky Garden at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and uses AI and facial recognition algorithms to determine perceived emotions, responding by generating bespoke artwork from a library of over 1,000 works. The intention is to create artwork which immediately counter-acts negative emotion, or encourages positive emotion through a visual and artistic translation.
Innovative uses of music and sound technology have been shown to have benefits for patients in a number of medical environments. Andrew Hall, our Sound and Research Consultant, works closely with hospital staff and patients to research and create bespoke audio projects or installations which can be tailored towards specific areas of the hospital, creating the optimum healing environment. Read more about Andy's work here.
The Zoo is a 90-minute-long bespoke digital artwork commission which can be played on a seamless loop, featuring moving portraits of 42 different animals, ranging from domestic to wild. The film was designed with creative filmmakers Accademia with the aim of providing a positive distraction to children waiting or being treated in the Children’s Emergency Department as Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who can often be anxious, distressed or experiencing pain.
We partnered with London Aquarium, Colchester Zoo, Battersea Dogs and Cats home, Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, and Hounslow Urban Farm to film the diverse range of animals. The digital film is accompanied by a small booklet called The Zoo Passport, which gives information about some of the animals featured, such as their names, ages and fun facts about their species.