A brand new simulation facility has been unveiled at the University of Bedfordshire to help train and develop the next generation of ‘home grown’ occupational therapists for the region.
The simulation suite opened for the students’ first practical assessments on 5th November during National Occupational Therapy Week – an initiative which aims to secure the future workforce and increase diversity within the profession.
Housed in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, the suite will be used by occupational therapy students to complement the theory and practise of the three year course. It will enable them to learn the holistic requirements and daily needs of occupational therapy clients, such as self-care, productivity and leisure, in a simulated learning environment. Course leaders are certain the facility will enable better employment prospects for their student cohort.
Sarah Page, Senior Lecturer and Occupational Therapy Course Co-ordinator, said:
By working closely with local hospitals, councils and healthcare providers, we can enhance the employability our occupational therapy students through skills learnt first-hand during their practical lessons and assessments in the simulation suite.
We are hopeful that future students will want to participate in and belong to such a worthwhile profession. We have confidence that our students will become proud ambassadors of the course as future occupational therapists, made right here at the University of Bedfordshire.
The opening of the simulation suite comes following the start of the new BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy course which began this term after being validated by the Health and Care Professionals Council. Despite being a brand new course which launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, five students were accepted and began their studies in October 2020. The University of Bedfordshire is the only university in England to have successfully launched a brand new Occupational Therapy course this year.
Built inside an existing wing of the Luton campus with an investment in the region of £50,000, the occupational therapy simulation suite features a fully functional kitchen and dining area, a large bedroom and a bathroom with separate toilet. It’s here that the occupational therapy students will learn and practice their skills, mimicking patient/client assessment situations, such as making a hot drink or transferring a person in and out of the bath.
The simulation rooms offer students specialist resources in order for them to practice and engage with a wide range of age-specific and ability-led conditions, including children with learning disabilities, people with mobility issues and individuals suffering with memory loss due to dementia.
Students will also get to experience mental health therapy by simulating meaningful activities, such as being able to successfully make a sandwich or engage in mindfulness or meditation.
Sarah Page continued: “The aim for me as course co-ordinator is to make the learning experience engaging and enjoyable, whilst ensuring it applies the most up-to-date research and practice. To further embrace this, I have ensured that our students receive teaching from practising Occupational Therapists as well as our highly experienced staff at the University – this offers another rich layer to their learning and develops their clinical reasoning skills to a deeper level of understanding.”
In addition, students on the Occupational Therapy programme will have access to regular placements in a wide range of NHS, private, voluntary and independent practice settings which have a long-standing and trusted relationships with the University. These include Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Milton Keynes University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and community service providers, such as East London NHS Foundation Trust and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust.
Dr Mark Wareing, Acting Head of the School of Society, Community & Health, said: “Our team will also be working with the University’s doorstep local authorities, such as Central Bedfordshire Council, to provide an exciting and diverse range of practice learning experiences. Where possible, we will work to place occupational therapy students alongside our new BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy cohort, to ensure that there is an excellent interprofessional learning experience.”
Dr Louise Grant, Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, added: “I’m delighted that we have approval for occupational therapy courses and that our new simulation suite is open and running. Occupational Therapy is a really exciting, fulfilling career and offers opportunities to make a real difference in people‘s lives.
“We have welcomed our first cohort of students and look forward to contributing to the local workforce shortage of occupational therapists in the coming years. We are grateful for our partnerships who provide placements and the high-quality practice learning experiences that they offer.”
For further information about studying Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and other practical healthcare courses, visit: www.beds.ac.uk/howtoapply/courses
For #OccupationalTherapyWeek take a look inside our new Occupational Therapy Simulation Suites with some of our first year students! 👩⚕️ #UniofBeds #OccupationalTherapy #Healthcare #ChooseOT pic.twitter.com/cfggqMXYtt— uniofbeds (@uniofbeds) November 5, 2020
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