£120K patient simulator will help improve care and training
05 April 2016
A brand new simulation training centre for staff at Southend University Hospital has just been opened by the Mayor of Southend, which is at the forefront of teaching for new and existing medical staff.
The £120,000 centre is designed to look and feel like a typical
patient bay, complete with a sophisticated mannequin that can be
used to stage any medical scenario for training and better
Gillian Donohue, a lecturer practitioner who is part of the
exciting new centre, said: "Essentially it is like a flight
simulator for pilots but for health care staff, we can replicate
any situation and control the environment and the mannequin's
physiological status. This will allow staff to feel comfortable
about managing difficult or rare events and make them more
confident, therefore improving patient safety.
"The simulation suite can be used for all levels of clinical
staff from HCAs to consultants allowing them to come and practice
skills and management of patients. The environment, mannequin and
patient scenario can be altered to different levels of complexity
depending on the staff group involved.
"Staff are therefore asked to manage situations which they would
face in the real world in a challenging but safe environment. And
that's something you can't get from a book or case study, hands on
practice with all the challenges that you may face in a real
Just as it is in actual health care, it is the patient that
remains the focus of attention. In this case it is a mannequin,
known as 'Hal', and all his physiological parameters such as heart
and breathing rate, lung sounds and even his blink rate can be
altered to realistically mimic any medical situation.
Staff are able to speak on behalf of the mannequin meaning they
are therefore able to inform the clinician what the "patient"
problems are, such as if they have chest pain and responding to
their questions. All this makes it extremely realistic and allows
staff to behave as they would in the clinical situation which makes
the possibilities for training endless.
The simulation suite is also getting a smaller paediatric model
for training scenarios with children.
A typical session
There is a two way mirror which allows the controller to watch
the scenario and respond appropriately to ensure the situation
remains relevant and realistic.
Each session is recorded so colleagues can watch the scenario as
it unfolds on a TV screen in an adjacent room. Just like Big
Brother people forget being filmed very quickly. They behave like
they behave in clinical practice; it's a very powerful way of
At the end of the session the group can discuss what happened in
the simulation suite with one of the trained facilitators, showing
it's not about learning for one or two people but very much about
learning for a whole group. It is about managing the whole patient,
not just about learning clinical skills. Simulations build in
non-technical skills, such as communication, team work, leadership,
all of which make a big difference to patient outcome and patient
Investment in people
As well as investment in equipment it is also a real investment
in people, staff and patients. Simulation is closely linked with
improvements in patient safety which is of paramount importance in
the trust and it will really pay dividends for Southend Hospital
and its patients.
There's a real confidence in the simulation centre and currently
ten staff from the hospital are fully trained in delivering
simulation at Southend.
Gillian, said: "We have the full set up here, no other hospital
in the area has it set up to this degree of fidelity, meaning it is
so close to real life practice and that is essential. Professional
development is important and we know it is something important in
helping to train to medical students, trainees and overseas nurses
alike. It will help attract them and bring them back to
"We also realised it is something really beneficial to our
existing workforce, not only does it allow them to identify risks
and areas for improvement but it allows us to develop our staff in
a safe and controlled environment. This is a great facility for
staff development and will help us retain staff in the future."
The simulation suite is going to be open for all clinical
directorates to use and the trainers will help develop training
programmes with all the different areas of the hospital. All of
this means 'Hal' and our new child mannequin aren't expected to
have any bed rest anytime soon.
In the future it could even be used as an income generator, with
the potential to eventually develop courses offered outside of the