The formal opening of the University of Cumbria’s upgraded clinical skill laboratories in Carlisle took place on Thursday 6 April. Sally Cheshire, chair, Health Education England (North) performed the ceremony, while the event was hosted by Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell.
These fit-for-purpose learning environments, with improved access to flexible learning spaces appropriate to a range of professions and occupations, offer high quality technology-based simulation equipment to reproduce different care settings and clinical scenarios.
As an example, nursing students can benefit from specialised mannequins, which are technically advanced, including ‘Baby Hal’ (pictured) who makes breathing sounds, allowing student midwives to manage the complex needs of a new-born.
The improved facilities are giving occupational therapy, nursing and midwifery and other health-related students opportunities to develop their understanding of the practical elements involved in caring for clients and patients.
For example, vital skills around home mobility for those with disabilities, such as the technological aspects of adapted home environments, can be learned, while a new ‘older adults’ flat’ simulation helps students to understand the design principals used within the community.
Nursing students can also practise activities such as hoist operation and other clinical skills in a safe and supportive environment, to hone their abilities before having to apply them to real patients.
Head of Nursing, Health and Professional Practice, Dr Louise Nelson says: "The clinical skills spaces are ensuring that pre-registration nursing and midwifery students have a very realistic clinical experience. We try as far as possible to replicate the experiences the students have in practice, for example sourcing NHS beds, hoisting equipment etc. The students absolutely value the prescribed amount of time in the skills labs and feel very prepared for practice through the clinical simulation facilities."
The university has a similar facility on its Lancaster campus, which will be opened formally on 27 April by Laura Roberts, managing director, Health Education England (North).