Having the courage to improve ourselves
Chris Attoe, Research Lead at Maudsley Simulation, blogs about their unique approach to mind and body staff training and the courage of staff striving to make themselves better healthcare professionals.
Last week the amazing team that I work for (Maudsley Simulation) had two pieces of great news. We were nominated for a HSJ Award in the category of ‘Improving Outcomes through Learning and Development’ and a project funded by Health Education England came to fruition with the release of an animation explaining our work.
While reflecting on these events I realised that our team’s achievements would not be possible without the courage of staff working in or with healthcare. Not courage in the sense of delivering care, putting patients first, and prioritising others, but courage to strive to make oneself a better clinician, healthcare professional, or team member.
Maudsley Simulation specialises in experiential training to improve outcomes and experiences for people accessing healthcare. Specialising in training on interacting mental and physical health needs, the kind of issues that are being highlighted through the King's Health Partners Mind and Body Programme.
Our simulation courses focus on patient journeys, from transfer between mental health and acute settings, to moving from antenatal to postnatal care, with the flexibility to create courses to address clinical priorities and core healthcare skills. This gives staff an insight into wider care pathways, the experience of other healthcare professionals, and perspectives of patients and service users.
We use carefully constructed scenarios, involving realistic environments and professional trained actors, to provide participants with the chance to engage in their daily role outside of their workplace. Scenario settings can vary from community and inpatient mental health services, to Emergency Departments and acute wards, and even home visits. These scenarios are then followed by a structured debrief with facilitators, allowing for reflection and learning about ourselves, our colleagues, and the services we provide.
Our simulation suite is based at Lambeth Hospital, and we are also able to deliver our training in clinical workplaces, brining in our faculty, actors, and equipment with the help of our outstanding tech team. As well as running courses daily in our centre, we have delivered courses the length and breadth of the UK, as well as in Sweden, France, Belgium and Canada, with international interest focusing primarily on our Mind and Body courses.
Who do we train?
Our multidisciplinary team, including psychiatry, psychology, nursing, physical health, marketing, and business expertise, is key to our successful functioning and is evidence of practising what we preach, with a significant focus on interprofessional education. Service users are also essential to our training, from educating and briefing our actors on mental health and illness, to co-producing our courses with us.
We’ve now worked with and trained more than 5,000 people throughout King’s Health Partners, as well as local Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, and Probation Service. From undergraduates to consultants, and health visitors to psychotherapists, we’ve enjoyed working with professionals from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds with all levels of experience. If you want to see what courses might be suited to your needs, see our list of current opportunities here.
Research has demonstrated that our training can improve confidence, attitudes, and skills in working with mental health needs. After attending training people often speak about learning new ways of communicating, increased ability to reflect on practice, and developing team working and interprofessional collaboration. While training can often result in practical changes, such as improved incident reporting, introduction of reflective practice sessions, and staff and family support groups.
Although we believe we are offering innovative, effective training, the likes of which is not available on this scale anywhere else globally, we recognise that this would be impossible without our participants. Every person who attends our training demonstrates the courage to try new experiences, reflect on the type of person and clinician they are, share their learning with others, and dedicate time to their own development. Underpinning all of this is a drive and commitment to providing better healthcare services.
So while this is a less direct form of courage than that shown in clinical workplaces or on the front line of patient care, it is every bit as important in improving care.
Thanks to all the team at Maudsley Simulation and all those who have supported and collaborated with us, including our participants!!