In partnership with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, our Mindset project is the first step in testing the potential of Submergence as a complementary healthcare solution.

Credit: BBC Points West

Over the last 10 years we’ve been told lots of stories about how our artworks improve people’s wellbeing. We want to push this positive impact on people’s lives further, so this year we started testing Submergence in healthcare settings. 

Submergence is our most tried and tested artwork, it is robust and scalable making it perfectly adaptable for new locations. We took this technology and designed a feasibility study in partnership with Gloucestershire NHS Trust to test the technology and explore user and staff experience.

The team spend six months designing a bespoke rig and experience suitable to be installed in hospitals, taking into consideration locations, infection control and health & safety.

We consulted with staff throughout this process who visited our studio to take part in the experience, helping us to design suitable light and sound content for a hospital environment.

After the design process we installed two new versions of Submergence in the Oncology unit in Cheltenham and the Children’s Centre in Gloucestershire for two months.  These had new calming soundscapes and buttons that visitors could use to customise their experience.

Working alongside staff members at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust we gathered feedback from data from staff, patients, carers, and the public about their initial reaction to the installation, how it made them feel and their views on its impact on their wellbeing.

“It just feels relaxing and evokes a sense of wonder, perhaps giving a much-needed pause from our focus on whatever health issues ourselves, friends or relatives reoccupy and for staff to leave the world of delivering healthcare for a short time”. Oncology patient

We also worked with the Trusts Community Engagement Officer to  invite community groups to experience the installations during quieter hospital hours.

Having now completed the trial in the Oncology unit in Cheltenham and the Children’s Centre in Gloucester, we’re confident our Submergence technology brings positive benefits to patients and staff.

Started to feel the calmness of the experience before sitting down. Once sat, the lights started to give me a sense of zoning out. Closed eyes to focus on the nature sounds. Started to sink into the chair”. Oncology patient

The study shows that the adapted Submergence technology has evolved as a solution to reduce anxiety levels for patients in a clinical setting and can transform clinical spaces without the need for staff intervention and specially designed dedicated rooms.

Evidence shows that the Submergence experience helps to ease the mind, reduce stress and lower anxiety levels and is a viable healthcare solution that uses immersion as a pathway to improve patient experience through mental clarity and calmness.

We found that patients enjoyed the physical experience, engaging with the immersive 3D environment without the need for a headset, they can sit within the LED light strands or sit outside and look in. We think being able to maintain human connection is really important and the emotional synergy created by being able to hold hands with loved ones and sit face to face has led to a much more useful space for patients to connect, engage and improve their treatment plan overall both pre and post appointment.

Our hope is that the development of submergence as an experience within a healthcare setting will allow us to create something that improves the quality of life of patients and staff by providing a shared safe space for people to come together rather than sitting in isolation.

Important learnings from the project have been captured by Camille Aubry whose illustration outlines the need to build a shared language between healthcare professional and the creative team to nurture trust and ensure buy in from the team on the ground. This in turn leads to effective co-design, accessible implementation of the experience in an appropriate clinical space. All these a re key aspects in the creation of a first of its kind, new technological experience that provides patients and staff with a space to escape to relax.

The next phase of this project is to the re-design of Submergence to bring it inline with healthcare standards and make it easy to manage and maintain. Once deployed within healthcare we hope people will have a good experience with this technology and be able to take ownership and feel confident with using this as a beneficial experience in their everyday practice.

Through the Mindset project we hope to further define the relationship between artistic practice and technological innovation, sharing this with the creative and healthcare sectors to encourage further cross-collaboration in the future.

Thank you to our partners:
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Funded by Innovate UK Mindset

Credit: Camille Aubry