Traditional Poster Round
Context: : In recent years, well published reports of healthcare inequalities for patients with learning disabilities (1) have highlighted the need to improve training opportunities for healthcare professionals caring for this patient group. Following the successful use of actors as simulated learning disability (LD) patients in adult practice (2), (3), a course was developed to enhance the skills of staff caring for patients with learning disabilities in the paediatric setting. The course set out to achieve the following outcomes: support staff in implementing reasonable adjustments for LD patients in order to enable clinical care interventions, build effective communication skills with LD patients and their families/carers, develop awareness and understanding of the importance of providing reasonable adjustments, and increase awareness of the challenges that people with learning disabilities face when accessing the hospital setting.
Description: : This novel one-day course attracted a multiprofessional group of delegates including nurses, health care support workers and allied healthcare professionals. Simulation scenarios covered a range of clinical settings allowing candidates to participate in the scenario most relevant to their clinical speciality. Candidates were required to communicate effectively with the actors who portrayed adolescent LD patients, each time implementing reasonable adjustments in order to carry out clinical interventions. Following the scenarios, each debrief was led by simulation faculty, supported by the trust Learning Disability team as the clinical experts. With the support of an advocate, the actors were able to contribute; offering vital feedback from their unique perspective. The course concluded with an extended debrief, providing an additional opportunity to explore common themes from the day with the actors and specialist team.
Observation/Evaluation: : Qualitative data was collected via electronic candidate evaluation. Before and after the course, candidates were asked to rate their confidence in communicating with children and young people (CYP) with LD. The pre-course weighted average was 2.5/5.0 and post course 4.0/5.0, demonstrating a 30% improvement. 100% of candidates found the course useful in providing a greater understanding of how to implement reasonable adjustments for CYP with learning disabilities.
The course demonstrated that the use of actors with Learning Disabilities provides a successful model for enhancing the skills of clinical staff caring for patients with LD. Moreover, it was observed that candidates made extensive use of the lived experience offered by the actors during the debrief process. The support of the actors provided a platform for candidates to address recurrent issues from their practice and themes that emerged throughout the course, importantly, drawing from the lived experience perspective of LD patients. In response to this observation, the format of the day has been adapted to incorporate a separate panel session for future course days. This adaptation aims to provide a dedicated workshop for candidates to explore prominent issues surrounding the care of patients with learning disabilities. Planned to run twice a year, this novel simulation-based course goes some way in addressing the need to improve training opportunities for staff caring for LD patients.