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State-of-the-art Sim Man takes training to the next level

A life-like patient simulator which gives clinicians hands-on practical experience of treating physical as well as psychological conditions has been introduced at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

The full-size 'Sim Man' was purchased with a generous £27,000 donation from Health Education East of England. He is now being used in the simulation suite at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich to recreate a wide range of different scenarios so that staff can improve their communication skills, confidence and team-working, as well as the way in which clinicians respond to a deteriorating patient.

The mannequin is controlled remotely using a computer software system, and can cough, breath and hold a conversation with doctors and nurses to explain how he is feeling. Fully interactive, he can develop a huge range of physical conditions to test clinicians’ knowledge and decision-making skills in a safe environment.

The Sim Man sessions will focus on the concept of ‘diagnostic overshadowing’, which will prompt clinicians to think about whether someone’s physical symptoms are being caused by their mental health problem.

Doctors and nurses at NSFT will be able to use him to practice their basic observation skills, take measurements such as pulse and blood pressure or hone techniques such as cannulisation. While this is taking place, the Sim Man can be programmed to become agitated or non-complaint, in turn making the training more realistic.

The mannequin can also be used to simulate specific emergency situations, such as a patient’s airway becoming blocked, a drugs overdose or suffering a bleed on the brain following a fall.

Jane Sayer, Director of Nursing with NSFT, said: “We are very grateful to Health Education East of England for funding this fantastic patient simulator. He will make real difference to our staff by giving them the chance to develop their team working and communication skills.

“The Sim Man will give them the chance to take and respond to physical observations and test their decision-making if the patient’s condition suddenly deteriorates. People with mental health problems can be agitated or non-compliant, or may be taking medication for other conditions which affects their behaviour, so being able to recreate those scenarios in a safe environment will be incredibly valuable for our staff.

“We are looking forward to rolling out the opportunity for training to colleagues across the Trust and making good use of this state-of-the-art equipment to help us further improve safety and quality at NSFT.”