We’ve enlisted an unlikely ally in the fight against COVID-19: mannequins.
However, the mannequins at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust aren’t used for displaying clothes. These state-of-the-art medical training mannequins can simulate a variety of health conditions for staff in training to practice new procedures in safety.
Aly Robinson is the Trust’s simulation officer. Working with her colleague Dr Vicki Gregg, Aly runs regular training scenarios using manikins which can be programmed and externally controlled. Not only displaying the signs of illnesses but also reacting to the treatment they are receiving.
Aly said: “Training using mannequins is obviously completely safe.
“It’s very effective as our mannequins can talk and react like a real patient. We can also monitor them and display a read out showing their ‘vital signs’. So staff can see the effectiveness of the treatment they are delivering.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff have been using the mannequins to train on new procedures. All to ensure they can care for patients who may also be displaying signs of the virus.
“Our medical colleagues have had to change the way they work because of COVID-19”, continues Aly. “As well as wearing more PPE, some procedures which create a ‘spray’ of fluids from the patients. Known as aerosol generating procedures, such CPR are now carried out by a specialist team in enhanced PPE. This means ward staff have to be confident in what treatment they can now personally deliver and any changes they need to be aware of.”
A recent session saw nursing practitioners Beth Alderton and Charmaine Kirk train under the guidance Doctor Sophie Wilcox on a scenario involving a mannequin named Susie.
‘Susie’ was admitted via Accident and Emergency for a suspected orthopaedic complaint. Later she began to display breathing problems. Leading the two nursing practitioners to rehearsing new procedures for a patient in medical distress.
Doctor Wilcox commented: “Working with COVID-19 patients has been a learning curve. Using the mannequins means we can share knowledge and experiences with our colleagues. We can also practice the new procedures we need to follow in a safe environment.”
Other training scenarios have included a child mannequin named ‘Hal’. Who is admitted to the children’s ward after experiencing breathing and heart problems. With a nurse acting as Hal’s mother. The children’s wards nurses and doctors spent a morning practicing and learning new, vital skills when treating a child during the pandemic.
The Trust Simulation team has access to 7 of the state-of-the-art mannequins, which can cost up to £60,000. These include an adult male, adult female, a ‘pregnant’ mannequin which ‘gives birth’, a child, a baby and two premature babies.