Optimising patient safety through culturally competent simulation-based education with health professionals

3 December 2020

Guest blog by Dr Gabrielle McClelland, Associate Dean International, School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, Faculty of Health Studies, University of Bradford

A three year European funded Erasmus+ KA2 project entitled the ‘Sim-Versity project’ involved partners from Savonia University of Applied Sciences Ltd, Finland, University of Maribor, Slovenia, University College Cork, Ireland, and the University of Bradford took place between 09/2017-08/2020. The project aimed to bring together stakeholders such as health and social care professionals and educators, ‘experts by experience’, policy developers and managers to contribute to the development of a suite of equality, diversity and inclusion oriented educational resources that could be integrated into health professional simulation- based education.

The rationale for the project is in the need to equip health professionals and educators with the tools they need to gauge and improve their knowledge and skills around equality, diversity and inclusion in order to enhance patient safety and experience of care. Simulation education is designed to increase the safety quotient and effectiveness of clinical practice through the rehearsal of skills in an artificial and authentic environment. Diverse patient characteristics may be conveyed through cultural, sensory, language, physical or psychological difference and may increase communication error and threaten patient safety. Arguably, culturally sensitive, knowledgeable health professionals are better equipped to respond to patients with diverse needs relating to, for example, their gender, ethnicity, disability, and age.

Stakeholder involvement in Sim-Versity café style focus groups were held across the partner organizations. These cafés promoted the development of resources with content drawn from real world concerns and recommendations. Focus group data was integrated with best available current evidence around equality, diversity and inclusion and the Association of Simulation in Practice in Health standards framework.

The project produced the following free, online resources:

  1. A multi-media web hub dedicated to simulation education and diversity.
  2. A web-based simulation education diversity assessment tool (SEDAT)
  3. A web-based simulation education diversity toolkit

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the end of project conference was delivered virtually rather than in Cork, Ireland as originally planned. The e-conference was widely marketed internationally through the partner country universities contacts. Invited keynote speakers included experts in equality, diversity and inclusion, patient safety, simulation education, disability support services. Short presentations were selected through an abstract submission system with an agreed selection panel to promote transparency and equality of opportunity for applicants. There was a poster presentation facility on the conference web hub and these materials were made available post conference, with a scaled down version of the presentations available on the web hub as a permanent resource. The conference attracted 307participants from across the globe including Australia, England, Ireland, Finland, Slovenia, Canada, USA, Ghana, South Africa. Participants were from health and social care practice, public health, Health and Safety Executive, British Council, Erasmus+ National Agency, disability services, Inclusion and Diversity, academia, simulation education, information technology and computing. Delegations included professors, managers, directors and consultants, Experts by experience also attended the conference. Participant roles from health backgrounds included qualified and student nurses, midwives, paramedics, radiography, occupational therapy, general practitioners, consultants, paediatricians, mental health, emergency department practitioners. The conference evaluated positively with a significant level of interest in the project resources.

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