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Simulation training helps give health care assistants a stronger voice

A simulation and human factors training programme in Taunton has helped give health care assistants (HCA) greater confidence in their role in providing more than 50% of direct clinical care on the wards.


Human Factors and Simulation Fellow Pippa Richards, whose background is in critical care nursing, has worked closely with colleagues at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, caring for patients whose condition deteriorates.

The programme is one of a number of schemes supported by Health Education England using simulation and human factors training to drive improvements.

In her role as Simulation and Human Factors Fellow Pippa has worked intensively with staff on ten wards at Musgrove Park Hospital as part of a rolling one-year project. Following the success of the scheme, the trust has undertaken to continue the scheme with Pippa taking the lead.

Pippa spent time on each ward providing on the spot support and training for the HCAs to enable them to recognise the signs of critical deterioration, ensuring these were appropriately recorded and that HCAs felt empowered to raise concerns and ensure treatment is escalated accordingly.

Using a mannequin Pippa ran through various medical scenarios. She also taught technical skills such as manually checking blood pressure, and non-technical skills, such as communication and using the SBAR handover tool.

Pippa provided support to help empower them to act in a more proactive way in emergency situations by getting oxygen or drips ready, taking blood sugar levels and feeling more comfortable about speaking up when it was needed rather than waiting to be asked to do so.

Each week Pippa organised a multi-disciplinary training event where a whole team (HCAs, nurses and doctors) would be presented with a simulated problem, such as acute kidney failure or sepsis, to enable them to develop their team working skills.

She said: “Health care assistants are often the first person at the patient’s bedside and this training aims to give them more confidence to take observations, recognise deterioration and raise these with more senior colleagues.

“This training has helped them feel a lot more comfortable about speaking up and for them to recognise that they have a voice and that people want to listen to them.”


This Page was last updated on: 20 June 2016

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