Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) has become one of the first mental health trusts in England to open a simulation suite to support clinical staff in developing their skills in communicating with patients, including in sensitive situations.
The suite, comprising a large simulation room with cameras and an adjacent control and observation studio, will be available for trainee psychiatrists and other clinical staff including psychologists, mental health nurses and social workers.
It will enable them to develop their patient consultation and wider communication techniques as well helping in preparation for clinical assessment exams.
Props and furniture will be used to set up the room in a variety of different scenarios such as a private living room, clinic room or an in-patient ward. There is a bed with an electronic medical manikin for learning key medical checks such as pulse and heart rate monitoring, giving injections and resuscitation techniques.
On the other side of a one-way mirror is a smaller studio where trainers can observe, record and playback filmed simulation exercises, often using a specialist actor to role play the part of a patient in different, and often sensitive, scenarios.
The suite can also be used for health professionals to develop their overall presentation skills and provide training for witness testimonies in court or at inquests.
The suite has been opened at C&I’s main St Pancras Hospital site and financed through a £74,000 grant from Health Education England via a bid to UCLP, the academic health science partnership which is also our lead provider for trainees. A separate, but similarly funded bid enabled the recruitment of Dr Daniel Hughes, as Psychiatry Simulation Fellow to drive the project.
Daniel has been developing and delivering simulation training events with trainee psychiatrists, medical trainees, Foundation level doctors and multidisciplinary teams and getting excellent feedback. He has worked closely with estates and the external suppliers and been instrumental in the suite being completed successfully on time.
Dr Ruth Allen, C&I Director of Medical Education, said: “Our new simulation suite is an excellent resource for helping our staff develop and enhance their interpersonal and communication skills.
“These are key in helping get to the heart of our service users’ feelings and needs and explaining appropriately and sensitively our proposals for their mental and physical care.
“Effective dialogue and interaction between our health professionals and our service users requires experience and confidence and our new simulation suite will help develop this within our staff.”
“It will also have a key role in developing our staff’s physical health care competence and skills and this is a key area to focus on. We hope that much of the Trust’s existing risk assessment training can incorporate elements of simulation to enable participants to practice what they learn.”
Dr Georgina Fozard, a psychiatric trainee with C&I’s Personality Disorder Services, believes simulation exercises can be of significant benefit in the training of mental health professionals.
She said: “It is very important through the patient-doctor relationship, for instance, to get good outcomes and to make sure that the patient is engaged with their mental health plans.
“Effective communication is key to this and this new suite will be invaluable in providing a safe area where a range of mental health colleagues can practice simulated meetings with patients and their relatives and get feedback on how to further develop their approach – even on detail such as appropriate eye contact and being aware of your own physical mannerisms.”
The new simulation suite will support the delivery of many of the services C&I offers and its use incorporates many of the Trust’s pledges contained in its new Clinical Strategy.*
Notes to Editors
* Our Clinical Strategy
At the heart of everything we do are the guiding principles contained in our new Clinical Strategy launched in March 2016. The ethos behind the simulation suite reflects the following pledges from the Clinical Strategy:
we will co-produce with our service users and carers their treatment and support
we will work in a recovery-orientated way
we will offer evidence-based interventions
we will choose outcomes that matter to service users and carers and use these to shape our services
we will integrate with otherservices so that service users have their mental, physical and social needs met in a coherent way
we will improve access to our services for everyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and other protected characteristics