Simulation helps NHS prepare during coronavirus pandemic

by Communications team

The NHS is using simulation to help prepare and test staff and systems during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This article collates some of the simulation resources available that are relevant to the current situation, which NHS clinicians may find useful.

What is simulation?

Simulation is when a clinical scenario or healthcare process is modelled for the purpose of teaching or understanding system challenges associated with providing a healthcare service. The overall aim is ultimately to improve patient safety and outcomes. It’s commonly referred to as ‘SIM’.

It’s been used during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist healthcare services prepare to:

  • Support organisational response
  • Evaluate new or temporary care settings
  • Support staff to practise new skills
  • Modify policies and procedures
  • Facilitate individual and organisational learning

For example, some NHS trusts have used simulation during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure effective ‘donning and doffing’ of personal protective equipment (PPE). This is where staff practice putting on (donning) and removing (doffing) PPE.

COVID-19 simulation resources

Our human factors experts highlight below some of the available resources that are relevant in the current situation, which NHS clinicians may find useful.

General use of simulation for COVID-19 preparations

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine recommends we ‘think SIM’ for COVID-19 preparations. They’ve produced a simulation guidance document that outlines the principles of simulation along with practical guidance.

Tabletop exercise package

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed various COVID-19 tabletop exercises to help organisations to prepare. It can be adapted to make the simulation country-specific and more relevant to participants.

New healthcare facilities

The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare published an article on using simulation to assess the safety of new healthcare teams and new facilities back in 2011, which is relevant to the current situation. It provides a template for evaluation of new teams and clinical settings before patient exposure.

Debriefing after simulation

The US based National Center for Biotechnology Information has guidance on debriefing after simulation, specifically where simulation has taken place in the actual clinical environment (in situ) rather than in a dedicated simulation centre.

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