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Bevan Exemplar Cohort 4 Projects

The Buzzard Café for Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Jamie Duckers and Anna McCulloch (CAVUHB), Catherine O’Leary and Rachel Gemine (HDUHB) and Thomas Reitmaier (Swansea University).

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Swansea University and industry partner, Rescape, Microsoft.

This Bevan Exemplar project used virtual reality headsets to create a digital café for patients with Cystic Fibrosis to socialise and undertake group therapies.


Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited condition with an average life expectancy of under 40 years; it can affect all organs of the body and patients often have complex symptoms and time-consuming treatment regimes.

Due to cross-infection risks, people with Cystic Fibrosis are unable to make face-to-face contact with other Cystic Fibrosis patients, therefore they are unable to socialise or undertake group activities together. As a result, there is a growing need for social and psychological support in people living with the condition.

The Cystic Fibrosis centre in Cardiff covers the whole of Wales, meaning some patients currently travel for over 5 hours to reach the centre. In many cases, parents or carers drive the patient to appointments.


  • To use Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to build a digital ‘cafe’ where those with Cystic Fibrosis can meet virtually to provide support to each other and undertake group therapy led by a trained Cystic Fibrosis psychologist
  • Increased social and psychological support will allow patients to have better quality of life, along with reduced anxiety and This has shown to lead to better patient outcomes
  • By holding VR sessions, this will mean patient travel time is reduced, saving money in terms of transport and parking
  • To realise a positive impact in terms of accessing increased support, thus improving the patient experience
  • To develop the project with a prudent healthcare focus; develop the platform with service users; free up psychologist time to see urgent and vulnerable cases; increasing social support may reduce need for therapy improve equity of access to support.


  • A steep learning curve and some IT support from Swansea University team
  • Time from dedicated staff and patients
  • Infection control with regards to the headsets: there are on-going research trials exploring sterilisation and cleaning programmes


  • Our surveys of people living with CF show an enthusiasm for trialling VR
  • Our preliminary work has shown that people with CF find VR useful in phobia therapy, motivation to exercise and for reducing anxiety and breathlessness and as a distraction during medical procedures
  • We have run sessions in VR where people with CF have safely interacted and bonded having never met others with We have also run group meditation sessions in VR with people with CF and psychologists

Next steps

  • Application to Accelerate to obtain funding to roll out pilot project.
  • Awaiting results on sterilisation of headsets and develop of SOP for cleaning.
  • Patient Leadership project.
  • Transition experience in VR: from paediatrics to adult services, lung transplantation.
  • To run group psychological therapy using VR.

“I’ve never met a patient with CF before – I feel there are others that understand what I’m going through that I can link to.”

A Patient