NHS and Uni collaboration scoops national award

A collaborative project using Virtual Reality (VR) to help manage lower respiratory tract infections in children and reduce avoidable hospital admissions has won a prestigious national award.

A team of academics from the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of Chester and health professionals from the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group won the Contribution to Health Visiting Education Award’ award from the Journal of Health Visiting.

The group, comprised: Zalihe Kamil-Thomas, Rebecca Bailey-Mchale, Jean Evers, Jan Bailey and Scott Howard, all from the University of Chester; Ravi Jayaram, from the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; and Fay Quinlan and Charlotte Rowland from NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Together, they developed the workshop after it was discussed locally that there was a gap in education and continuing professional development in this area among the wider children’s workforce.

Professor Angela Simpson, Executive Dean of Health and Social Care at the University of Chester, said: “The Journal of Health Visiting Award highlights evidence based approaches to clinical practice. The workshop, designed by students in the Faculty, uses research evidence and novel teaching methods to teach people how to signpost patients into the most appropriate local health service. It promotes effective and efficient use of local health services, which is hugely important against a backdrop of local health services that are stretched for resource and much better for patients.”

Dr Charlotte Rowland, West Cheshire’s GP Clinical Lead for paediatrics, said: “We have collectively recognised and responded to the need to do more to support local understanding of lower respiratory tract infections. We hope to improve outcomes for children by supporting care closer to home and preventing avoidable hospital admissions. We are thrilled to have won the award. It has been a true partnership approach.”

As part of wider efforts to reduce hospital admissions for children with lower respiratory tract infections, the team developed a Continuing Professional Development workshop, which uses VR and simulation as well as theory and research, to develop practice around the management and prevention of admitting children to hospital who have the condition.

The 'Prevention of the Deteriorating Child’ workshop was designed for Health Visitors, School Nurses, Practice Nurses and other children’s professionals across the region to develop and enhance their skills and understanding of minor illness and injury in community and primary care.

It was developed because managing minor illness and accident prevention is a demanding aspect of the role of the children’s workforce, including Health Visitors, but they may not feel confident in this area of work.

Following the workshop, patients can now be pointed in the right direction for treatment by Health Visitors, School Nurses and Practice Nurses, helping to ease demand on GPs and hospitals. The use of virtual reality and simulation enables participants to learn in a safe and non-judgemental environment, giving them the skills and knowledge to gain confidence in this area.

Attendees to the workshop were given the opportunity to learn though the experience of Virtual Reality (VR) about how lower respiratory tract infections, in this case, pneumonia, infect and impact on the respiratory system. Upon evaluation, the knowledge gained following VR was much higher than prior to using it. Overall, the majority of attendees reported that using VR as a learning method was interesting, engaging and beneficial.

Date added: 03/04/2018

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