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Simulation training helps therapists improve care

At the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust human factors and simulation are being used to help therapists to enhance their skills and knowledge.

Human factors and simulation are being used to help therapists enhance their skills and knowledge in new ways and improve patient care.

Through a series of innovative training activities physiotherapist Caroline Ficke and critical care nursing sister Gabrielle Bignell are putting staff at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust through simulated situations.

They have already trained some 91 (about 90 per cent) physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists and are confident they will have covered everyone in these teams by March this year. They have also trained a further 10 therapists from other local allied NHS organisations.

Caroline and Gabrielle wanted to develop a package of training based around the deteriorating patient and human factors, such as leadership and teamwork, and simulation for therapists as this group of professionals had previously not taken part in this type of training at the hospital.

The two trainers are being funded for their part-time roles by Health Education England which is funding a range of simulation fellows across the south west in 2015/16.

Therapists were initially asked about what they would most benefit from learning about and the pair used this feedback to develop a number of innovative scenarios.

In one simulation project a team of therapists in accident and emergency were asked to assess a “patient”, played by a colleague, who then fainted as they took them up the stairs. The team had to work out how best to deal with the situation as a team and by communicating with other professionals.

In another simulation, speech therapists worked with a highly-realistic manikin to develop their skills to check a patient’s swallowing reflex to enable them to decide whether the patient (who had suffered a stroke) was able to eat and drink safely.

While in a third simulation project therapists had to use their knowledge and skills to decide if it was safe for a patient lying in bed to sit up and for them to be transferred to a wheel chair without them needing to seek advice from other teams.

Caroline explained: “We ask for evaluation on the day but we also go back in three to six months and ask what it has really done and they say it has changed the way they practice and that patient care has improved.”


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