It’s a Friday afternoon, and Maria the senior social worker is not happy to find herself running a multi-agency strategy meeting at five o’clock. It is the Friday before the spring break and she was called an hour ago by the designated teacher for child protection at a local failing school. The school is well known to her and a few of the children and their families attending there, are under her care. It’s a call she has had many times over her 20 years of experience. This time, the school had rung up the social services hotline at 15:40 and referred a 10-year-old girl who had broken down sobbing at the end of the school day. Maria re-reads the simple referral, “Female child Alice 10 years old disclosed to her teacher that she is terrified to go home, scared to be without the school for the next two weeks. The child whilst being comforted by her teacher, had soiled herself and was inconsolable. “
As she waits for her fellow professionals to arrive, she thumbs through the well-worn pages of the family file. She sighs, it’s a large file. Mum is struggling with mental health issues exacerbated by her depression and alcohol addiction. Dad has anger issues also brought on by drink. She recognises her own handwriting, in the margins on the pages and smiles, remembering when, in the past she had such bright ideas and high hopes for the interventions she had dreamed up, and then feels disappointment on their naivety and shortcomings. Today she is resolute, Alice needs her and she is determined not to let her down.
She looks at the clock on the wall, its now 17:05 and she is alone in the room. The door opens and Detective Constable James Hill walks in. Maria has worked with James for a couple of years, they have had some real successes and enjoy working together with vulnerable families. James hides his natural caring nature behind process and professionalism, however Maria knows this is a mask, she knows James really cares deeply. On many occasions they had worked together, skirting between the lines of policy, seniors and organisational stereotypes, to ‘get the job done.’ Today James is carrying a large file on Alice’s father and as he silently shakes his head as he sits down at the table, Maria has a real sense of foreboding.
The last person to enter is a newly qualified health visitor. Neither Maria nor James have met her before, as she takes her place at the table, Maria and James look at each other and James tilts his head, no words are spoken. She introduces herself as Sarah and says that she has brought the family’s medical file with her, she begins to talk about a lack of history of immunisations for Alice and her siblings but Maria quickly cuts her off. Maria explains quite formally, that there is a well-established protocol for this type of meeting and whilst Sarah’s information may be very important, as the chair of the meeting, she will call for in due time. Sarah seems is upset by this admonishment and falls quiet.
CregoTools® -Presence – Being there whilst remaining here
What if you could recreate all the dynamics of this meeting, enable the participants to access all the information held by the institutions they represent? What if you could allow them to talk to each other, share information, reach conclusions, agree actions, naturally, as if they were at the meeting, but not physically co-located?
We at the Hydra Foundation have created this shared space using virtual reality headsets. traditionally have been used for gaming and for interactive video. Many people have experienced the thrill of slaying dragons or riding impossible roller coasters. For this sort of gaming, VR headsets are fun and immersive, albeit they can leave the user feeling a bit nauseous.
What we have created is very different, we have recreated many of the psychological triggers and cues that make meetings dynamic, collaborative and sometimes even confrontational. When you put the headset on, you enter the room. You see the other participants, hear what they are saying, using normal speech you interact with them and through Hydra take your place at the table, whilst remaining in your office.