Thanks to the Good Friday Appeal, the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Simulation Program is taking team building to the next level through sophisticated medical simulations. By exposing teams to acute, but rare patient events in a safe environment, the program is improving clinical decision making, enhancing communication skills, and furthering great patient and family care in the most critical situations.
With staff from multiple departments working closely to deliver great care, it’s important that everyone is clear on how teams work together to deliver the best patient outcomes. Replicating critical patient care scenarios gives staff the opportunity to gauge how they react in difficult situations and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
“The strength of our Simulation Program is our ability to recreate rare events, to bring them to life and let people fully experience them,” says A/Prof Meredith Allen, Director of Medical Education. “Staff become immersed in the process, and are able to enhance their skills and reinforce their clinical response.”
To ensure the simulation experience is realistic, the RCH Foundation has supported the purchase of high-tech mannequins that imitate human responses.
Able to breathe, cry, talk, seize and bleed, these mannequins also mimic heart and lung sounds. Each mannequin is controlled by a Simulation Technologist, who ensures that they react appropriately to each simulation, reinforcing critical skills and making each simulation as authentic as possible.
“It’s difficult to comprehend just how isolated you might feel in critical situations until you experience them firsthand,” says Jenni Sokol, Clinical Lead for Simulation. “Education helps, by training teams to work together efficiently and mitigating human error.”
The simulation program also offers staff the opportunity to get feedback on their communication skills through the use of highly trained actors. Scenarios challenging our staff to deliver the most difficult news have been created from real events and are offered back as training opportunities. The actors are highly trained to provide feedback that helps participants navigate through some of the most challenging parts of being a health professional.
Though challenging, the realism of simulations is what makes them an effective way to train staff. Participants experience the same emotions and responses they would in a genuine high-pressure situation, and this makes a lasting impression. There is evidence that staff retain more knowledge and behavioural skills through simulation-based education than through book learning and lectures.
“To work together efficiently as teams and deliver the best patient care, we need to break down the silos we’ve traditionally trained in and focus on enhancing our skills collaboratively,” says Jenni. “The aim for the program has always been to turn groups of experts into expert teams and we’re making great progress in achieving that.”
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