We are delighted to announce that we recently won 'The Workforce Initiative of the Year 2020' Leading Healthcare award.

Maudsley Learning provides workforce development programmes that bring together professions to understand patient journeys through experiential and reflective learning. We are world leaders in mental health simulation training with unique blended programmes including virtual reality, simulation and masterclasses. Published research demonstrates our impact on individual and team development and clinical care.

The problem

– Healthcare education often contrasts with the clinical reality for NHS staff. We train according to specialty or discipline rather than patient needs; in professional groups rather than clinical teams; in environments not similar to clinical workplaces; and focus on knowledge acquisition rather than experiential learning.

– These problems within healthcare education have been repeatedly highlighted in academic literature (Frenk et al., 2010), policy and guidance (e.g. The Health Foundation, 2012; CAIPE, 2013), and are directly observed by clinicians and educationalists. The profound impact of these problems can affect patient outcomes and experience, and staff satisfaction and experience (e.g. King’s Fund, 2016; Lemaire, 2017). Educationalists, clinicians, commissioners, and policy makers nationally are trying to address these issues to benefit patients and staff.

Our solution

– Maudsley Learning’s unique approach to workforce development builds on best practices developed in aviation and medical simulation to pioneer an innovative educational programmes relating to mental health. Consequently, we address the problems above by providing a safe learning environment for clinicians to experience accurate recreations of clinical environments and patients (using trained actors), allowing for reflective and group learning through structured, facilitated discussion in interprofessional, multi-disciplinary groups.

– Our initial team within our NHS mental health trust piloted a project with a local acute trust, involving the design, delivery and evaluation of the first high-fidelity mental health simulation training course of its kind, supporting psychiatry trainees with communication skills in emergency medicine settings. The published evaluation highlighted significant improvements to participant’s confidence, and qualitative feedback on the engaging nature of mental health simulation training through the use of scenarios and debriefs (Thomson et al., 2013). This pilot provided ‘proof of concept’ through the widespread interest of clinicians and educators in accessing the training, as well as up-scaling and supporting this educational method.

– Since the pilot, harnessing the powerful experiential learning tool of combining interactive experiences with facilitated reflective practice has allowed us to establish the world’s first mental health simulation centre (Maudsley Simulation), as well as develop a range of workforce development programmes based on this foundation, from virtual reality and digital learning through to face-to-face masterclasses.

What we’ve done and achieved

– Initial pump-prime funding from Health Education England allowed us to refine and establish our educational approach, including the launch of our simulation centre. Funding provided space, staff, and technology to develop unique educational interventions, supporting a multi-professional team of psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, technicians, marketers and administrators to become the world leader in mental health simulation training. Our centre can run 2 courses concurrently, and has delivered 'in situ' simulation training in clinical workplaces across the UK and Europe. Prior to the establishment of Maudsley Simulation there was no high fidelity mental health simulation being delivered in a regular, quality assured, sustainable way.

– We now train thousands of participants annually, designing new courses to meet clinical and commissioning needs in healthcare and related fields. Courses range from Perinatal Mental Health, to medical deterioration in psychiatric settings, managing psychiatric crises in Emergency Departments, tackling comorbid mental and physical healthcare, among others. Importantly, we are able to tailor educational programmes to workforce needs in specific areas, harnessing interactive experiences and reflective learning sessions to achieve this.

– Our programmes address the three main interfaces in health; primary-secondary, mental-physical, and health-social care – bringing together clinical and non-clinical professions from all settings to focus on patient journeys, care pathways, and clinical needs. We’ve supported core clinical healthcare services within the NHS, and support services such as non-clinical staff, Police, Probation services and social care, as well as schools, Universities and voluntary and community organisations.

– Patients and service users are involved in training the professional actors who portray patients in our programmes (in person, via video or virtual reality), as well as course development, quality assurance, and evaluation processes. This involvement is essential in achieving a deeper understanding of mental health and illness, and the human experience behind this.

– Significantly, pump-prime funding required us to become financially self-sustaining as we received no financial support from any public or private sector organisation following HEE’s initial grant. From 2018 we have achieved this goal successfully, having workforce development programmes commissioned locally, nationally, internationally and accessing grants to support innovation and development.

– Building on this work we now have a range of educational programmes to support workforce development with mental health at their core, including simulation, digital, virtual reality and masterclass sessions. Our research agenda has published 17 peer-reviewed journal articles evidencing the effectiveness of our programmes. We collaborate with partners across the UK and globally to support them to sustainably implement workforce development solutions akin to our own, with improving staff experience and patient outcomes as the focus.

Overall benefits

– We have trained nearly 10,000 health and social care professionals and support staff, on more than 700 training days, spanning more than 70 training courses.

– Routine evaluations reveal that participants consistently report increased confidence, knowledge, and attitudes towards clinical care and interprofessional collaboration following training and at 2-3 month follow-up.

– Published research has demonstrated improvements to patient safety, from upgrading of emergency medical equipment and procedures, to increased frequency (up to 50%) and quality of incident reporting (Lavelle et al., 2017).

– Quality improvement initiatives resulting from training include: introduction of service user and staff support groups; restructuring of clinical assessments on CAMHS units; improved referral pathways between mental health and acute services; increased family involvement in inpatient units.

– Qualitative analyses of participant interviews 6-12 months following training demonstrate improvements to key clinical skills such as communication and interview skills, interprofessional collaboration, teamwork, and reflective practice.

– Our broad range of evaluations demonstrate the impact our courses can have on individuals and their professional development, how they subsequently utilise this learning with patients and colleagues, and the impact of these changes are on clinical teams, clinical care, and patient outcomes and experience. Our approach is increasingly being incorporated into curricula and national strategy (Attoe et al., 2016).

To find out more about the type of work we do please get in touch.