Patient safety at the heart of new nursing simulation suite

Issue date: 07 December 2015

The new Children's Focused Nursing Simulation Suite at the Glenside Campus of the University of the West of England, will be officially opened by Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead – Maternity, Newborn, Children and Young People for NHS England at 15:00 on Tuesday 8 December 2015.

The Suite, which includes a simulated children's ward and a sensory room,ensures student nurses develop skills and get the chance to practise them in a safe environment, improving their confidence and ability when they are on clinical placement.

The new facility is being dedicated to Princess Campbell MBE who was Bristol's first black ward sister, and who worked and studied at Glenside. Princess Campbell campaigned tirelessly for disadvantaged communities and sought to represent and give a voice to vulnerable people.

The new high specification ward is a simulated environment that has all the features of a real hospital setting – from emergency call buttons, to oxygen that works, suction, hospital beds and cots, and medicines for dispensing at the nurses station.

In addition, high-fidelity simulated life-like child mannequins, which have the physiological parameters of a real child - including pulse and temperature - can be programmed with conditions such as an asthma attack by the tutor for the students to respond to.

Cameras positioned around the ward record the students as they deliver care and this can be viewed by tutors on computer screens in a room alongside the ward. The recorded exercise is also an invaluable tool for giving feedback to students on their work.

As well as practical skills, the simulated ward also develops the essential communication and empathetic skills that nurses require for a person-centred model of care that helps produce a workforce which is caring, compassionate and safe in practice.

Kath Evans, Experience of Care Lead – Maternity, Newborn, Children and Young People at NHS England, says, “We know that the experience of care can improve our patient's physical and emotional wellbeing, so it's essential that nursing students have the opportunity to develop the way they interact with the children, young people and families that they care for. I'm delighted to see that the University of the West of England has created this stimulation suite to help prepare our nurses of the future.”

In addition to the ward, a new sensory room for children with learning disabilities will also be used for teaching purposes. The room, with coloured lights, music and sound, soft play and different textures and materials that respond to touch, can be used either to stimulate or practice calming techniques with children. The room also has an interactive floor with a digital fishpond that children can play with. Many of the features, such as light and sound, respond to touch and this can be a soothing experience for those with autism or other learning disabilities. It is typical of the type of facility that students would come across in practice, so it is a useful tool for Learning Disability nurses to learn to care for a range of children and to practise the values of respect and dignity essential in this role.

The sensory room will also be used as a resource by other Departments in the University – such as the Education Department and the Music Therapy course.

Sarah Green, Head of Nursing and Midwifery at UWE Bristol, says, “Ensuring our nurses and midwives are well prepared for practice, is all part of creating a skilled and value based workforce for the NHS which is safe in practice. For many students it can be challenging the first time they are faced with new situations such as breaking bad news, but the simulations allow them to safely practise these skills. Students also appreciate the opportunity to learn in this way as it helps increase their confidence.”

Senior Lecturer in Children's Nursing, Dom McCutcheon, who helped lead the project to set up the simulated ward and sensory room, says, “Our approach is person-centred. We look at the decision making capabilities of our students, not just in tasks, such as taking blood pressure or administering medicine, but also at their ability to recognise the emotion a patient is experiencing and the support they may need. This is particularly important with children, as they may not always be able to express feelings and experiences the way an adult would. The voice of the child end user is integral to the service.”

2nd year student, Amy Slater, says, “It's just like a normal ward, so it makes you feel a lot more comfortable and when you go onto wards you feel like you've already been there. You're not as apprehensive as you perhaps would have been.”

2nd year student, Kerry Stenhouse, says, “It's amazing. It gives students that extra bit of confidence they need when going into an environment they've never been in before. Seeing and using all the equipment before going on placement gives you that reassurance that you know what you're doing and can do it.”

About 180 nurses a year will use the suite as part of their education. In addition, post qualification nurses will use it to support workforce transformation education in areas such as advanced communication skills and advanced practice skills.

The simulated practice area was developed in consultation with UHB, staff and partners.

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