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New Waterford Simulation Lab to help develop skills

 3 healthcare workers are standing around a female patients' hospital bed. 2 of the healthcare workers are providing care to the patient



A new Clinical Simulation Laboratory (Sim Lab) that has recently gone into operation at the HSE Waterford Integrated Care for Older People Centre (WICOP)  will provide immersive, hands-on learning experiences for healthcare professionals and students.

The Sim Lab has been developed to replicate healthcare or home environments and will be used to immerse students in a clinical experience. In addition to the realistic environment, the lab has been equipped with high-fidelity camera and audio equipment allowing for unobtrusive observation and sharing of the simulated experience.

Practise specific skills

Being able to safely practise specific skills in a controlled environment helps participants build confidence and trust in their abilities. This particular service is focused on older people and their specific needs. There will be a very strong emphasis on the development of communication skills which are core to gerontological (study of older age) practice.

The new centre incorporates a unit specialising in research and training in medicine for the elderly as well as acting as a resource for others involved with the care of older people.

The project has succeeded through partnerships with the National Clinical Programme for Older People, the ASSERT Centre at UCC, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and the National Doctors Training and Planning team. The centre aims to support clients living in their homes and communities for as long as possible and to avoid hospital admission.

State-of-the-art centre

According to Prof John Cooke, WICOP Project Lead and Consultant Physician, Medicine for the Elderly at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), they now have a “state-of-the-art, purpose-built centre at St Patrick’s in Waterford. This will be a key element in the development of excellent services for older adults in Waterford. The reality of population projections is that the number of older adults needing healthcare will increase substantially in the next few years.

“The vast majority of these healthcare contacts will be with healthcare professionals working outside of the specialty of gerontology. It is crucial therefore that specialist services such as our own ensure that core principles are shared with all healthcare professionals. The best way to convey these inter-professional and communication skills is through the medium of simulation.” 

Neville Coen, Operational Team Lead, WICOP, added, “Various clinical professionals are involved in the care of older people. Resourcing integrated care allows the HSE to support older adults within environments best suited and adapted to their needs. This has been an ambitious project and these new developments at St Patrick’s will help the HSE both streamline health and social care for the most complex groups of older adults and encourage participation in this important area of medicine.”