TV presenter and inventor of the 5:2 diet, Dr Michael Mosley, joined local VIPs and employers to launch a new innovative technology health and social care hub at New College Swindon.
Swindon and Wiltshire Innovative Technology Care Hub (SWITCH) is an exciting collaboration between New College Swindon and Wiltshire College which aims to enhance and upskill health and social care staff across local region and beyond, using the latest immersive technologies.
Invited guests from local media, council, business and health care organisations, were given a tour of the futuristic facilities, within the College’s dedicated training hospital wards that have been built to NHS specifications.
Guests were introduced to a family of patient simulators (manikins) that mimic human anatomy and physiology, setting the standard for high-fidelity realism, allowing students to develop critical thinking, communication and clinical skills without risk to real patients.
Teaching staff also demonstrated how they can simulate any number of scenarios, using the immersive suite, virtual reality and augmented reality, to train students and medical practitioners. Guests even watched one of the manikins give birth.
David Panes is Programme Leader for SWITCH at New College Swindon and a Registered General Nurse with over 20 years of working in frontline roles. He is excited about the opportunities SWITCH is bringing to the region, “The use of these immersive technologies is a game changer for skills development in the health and social care sector. Not only does it provide an engaging and realistic environment to practice accident management and technical procedures, it also allows us to develop the softer skills around patient care and interaction.”
For those students who are looking to start a career in health and social care, this interactive way of learning is putting them in a much stronger position to enter the workforce, armed with the skills and hands-on experience.
Kerry Clayton, a T-Level Health and Social Care student said, “As a student who is beyond passionate about joining the NHS workforce as a midwife in the future, SWITCH and the resources it provides, really help to bring my course to life. It provides me with a safe space where I can develop my skills in a realistic environment, free to learn from any mistakes I make. This will massively improve my confidence when it is time to work with real patients. With SWITCH, anyone can be given the chance to blossom into a true superhero of the NHS.”
For a sector still recovering from the pressures exerted by COVID-19, immersive technology is a welcome innovative approach to health and social care education, providing a much more efficient and personalised way for hospitals and other care organisations to upskill their staff. In 2021, the UK Government, committed £2.1 billion to digital technology in healthcare and a recent Immersive Economy 2022 report highlighted that healthcare saw an 88% growth in immersive companies within the last five years, higher than any other sector. Thanks to this investment and initiatives such as SWITCH, some of the most exciting uses for immersive technology can be found in the healthcare field.
For David, supporting the training needs of employers is a key aim of the project,
“This is not just for our full-time students; we want to be the go-to training provider for any employers in the region who are looking to upskill their current staff. We can customise the software and create a wide variety of scenarios. So, if an employer comes to us with a specific training goal in mind, we can work with them to develop bespoke training for their needs. It is this type of collaboration with those on the frontline that will help to push the boundaries and shape the future of SWITCH.”
Between the two hubs at New College Swindon and Wiltshire College, SWITCH offers a wide variety of modular, short, full-time and bespoke courses. A mix of face-to-face, virtual and blended learning delivery methods provide the flexibility needed for a sector supplying services 24/7.