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In our latest blog, DASH manager Nicky Jenkins talks about running the Trust’s simulation hub – and the learning and training opportunities it offers

Monday, 17 May, 2021
In our latest blog, DASH manager Nicky Jenkins talks about running the Trust’s simulation hub – and the learning and training opportunities it offers

There are two of us who work full-time running the Dinwoodie Assessment and Simulation Hub at Wansbeck – a repurposed ward in space that became available when NSECH opened – myself and simulation technician John Stratford.

When we opened back in 2016, there were some who thought the facility may not be used that well, but we are now really busy and fully booked all of the time.

Beyond the day-to-day sessions for the medical undergraduates, we host a variety of teaching opportunities, examinations and assessments, and multi-professional courses, from basic clinical skills training days to high-fidelity team scenarios and external bookings.

We have hosted everyone from social care and GP practice teams to Scouts, Guides and 99 pupils from a local primary school!

One of the best simulation facilities in the region, DASH is also used by the likes of Health Education England and a number of the Royal Colleges for their exams.

Just as for everyone else, Covid-19 has impacted on what we do, but unlike many simulation facilities which simply closed their doors, we worked hard to develop guidelines for safe use.

Despite the limitations, we were the only simulation hub in the region able to hold key exams this year and have still had 2,500 people through the doors during the pandemic.

Changes included creating an additional control room in a store cupboard, so that we had a third simulation room to use when groups had to spread out more due to social distancing.

‘Control room’ makes it sound high-tech and some of what we do is – our most deluxe mannequins can sweat, froth, his pupils dilate, his tongue swells from anaphylaxis, and he has a pulse, heart and lung sounds. There are tanks in his legs which can store blood before being ejected from various points on his body.

But DASH is very flexible and the spaces can be used in a variety of ways, including as simple classroom space, while we also host the likes of clinical skills days with different rooms focusing on different skills such as cannulation or plastering. More basic mannequins or out-of-date medical equipment that would otherwise be binned are just as good as the more advanced technology, because everything has its use.

Just having the facility available has led to the development of a range of courses and initiatives being developed, because it really is a blank canvas.

As well as being the master of the control booths and the various scenarios, John has also trained others to use the systems themselves, which means they develop their own courses. The respiratory physiotherapists and the palliative care team have developed their own scenarios and gone on to present them at national conferences.

Rest assured, we are also always looking to the future and planning new developments as we want to be innovative and ensure we move with the times – at present, we are looking to install an immersive 360-degree classroom, which would have interactive walls.