We are excited to share that our success story has been featured on the Zoom website, showcasing how we harness cutting-edge technology to deliver mental health training courses virtually. Maudsley Simulation, honored with national awards, has seamlessly shifted to virtual course delivery, enriching the learning experience through the creation of true-to-life scenarios that offer practitioners a secure environment for learning.

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How Maudsley Learning is preparing healthcare professionals for extraordinary mental health situations

Maudsley Learning specializes in simulation training, creating realistic situations for practitioners to learn in a safe space.

Maudsley Learning has an exciting and challenging mission: to produce the highest quality mental health and well-being education and training products. This process also involves training healthcare and non-healthcare professionals to deal with psychological situations, a more relevant role than ever. Data shows that the rate of mental health disorders has increased due to lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Maudsley specializes in simulation training, creating realistic situations for practitioners to learn in a safe space. Healthcare professionals who participate in these trainings prepare beforehand and can discuss their experiences, feelings, and actions with peers and experienced trainers during the simulations. In addition to being prepared for extreme situations, healthcare workers can try different approaches in a safe environment — which wouldn’t be possible in real life.

However, in-person simulations require dedicated studios and multiple rooms, which limits the flexibility of where they can be hosted. Individual trainees go to another training room with specially trained actors simulating a scenario with a patient while being observed through cameras in another training room by the rest of the group. Location is key, and trainees have to travel (and likely stay overnight), which adds to the cost.

“Before our digital setup, we did most of our face-to-face training in London,” said Dr Megan Fisher, simulation lead at Maudsley Learning. “We have offered some training outside of London, but to run effective simulations, we have specific requirements for the location and the actors available.”

This approach worked well but limited the number of training sessions and required travel and accommodation arrangements. When the pandemic happened, Maudsley Learning developed digital simulation training to continue reaching healthcare workers.

Maudsley Learning’s team turned to Zoom to answer the question: How can you deliver a digital simulation with the feel of an in-person session? Using Zoom Meetings, the Maudsley Learning team quickly discovered that digital simulations could offer an experience on a par with face-to-face sessions and offer the advantage of flexibility. Instead of traveling to the simulation facility, trainees could attend sessions from across the country or anywhere.

Zoom enabled the ability to share thoughts and ideas before, during, and after a session without trainees being on location. “We use the annotation feature and encourage everyone to write their hopes and fears about the simulation on the whiteboard. In a face-to-face setting, we would use Post-it notes; using the whiteboard is a good alternative. In addition, the Zoom surveys help us understand how people are feeling and help normalize some of the fears people have about simulation courses,” said Kiran Virk, simulation technology and production manager.

Zoom also allowed Maudsley Learning to scale its business. “Before, the most we could do was a double simulation. Now we can run seven courses, including simulations and master classes, provided we have staff available to do so,” Kiran said.

“When coming up with a new design for digital simulations, one of the challenges was to create an experience where trainees felt they were moving from the training room to a live scenario with an actor that felt real. Trainees in the other room also needed to observe the scene without being seen. We used breakout rooms to manage this, developed new scripts for digital simulation training, and created a new role, the Moderator. This role manages the different Zoom tools used throughout the training script and supports trainers focused on the teaching,” said Carolyn Hodgman, Head of Digital Learning. “These are extra resources needed, but other than that, digital simulation offers a scalable opportunity to grow.”

While digital simulation training is a different experience, it can have just as profound an impact, especially when the actors take advantage of the new opportunities. In one example, an actor moved the camera with him, getting farther and closer. “It feels a lot more immersive when you can see the actor’s expression up close, and you can see their distress. We are having more conversations about empathy and building an empathetic approach,” Kiran noted.

A masterclass in Zoom Webinars

Besides the simulations, Maudsley Learning uses Zoom Webinars for its masterclass program. These also focus on training but are designed to reach a broader audience, up to 40 or 50 users at a time. In larger groups, it is even more critical to ensure every attendee can participate. “We put them in cafeteria-style discussion groups,” Carolyn noted. “The breakout rooms are an essential feature to achieve this.”

The team at Maudsley Learning uses Zoom’s API and integrations like Kaltura, making it easy to record videos, add recordings to playlists and keep them for later use or on-demand streaming. “We have many interactivity ideas, and Zoom has the plugins to help us run masterclasses even more smoothly,” Carolyn added.

From virtual simulations to virtual reality

The team is actively looking for new ways to train healthcare professionals better. One of them is moving the training into the virtual reality space.

Unlike live, which are improvised, simulations, VR settings can be rewound and experienced again. This opens new opportunities, for example, around sensitivity training. “We have created three videos with a team at King’s College in London,” said Hellen Welsh, media and VR producer at Maudsley Learning. “These are based on real stories that the team has researched, and they are designed to tackle inequalities and discrimination in the healthcare services.”

Trainees use VR headsets to immerse themselves into the scenarios, so they don’t have to be on-site to experience the session. Before and after the VR session, the participants are briefed via Zoom Meetings and can discuss the cases afterward with their peers and trainers. “Because it is happening all around us, we all experience different things,” Hellen said. “Lots of people miss microaggressions, and with VR, we can rewatch and pull focus to these topics. That’s not possible in real life”.

The Maudsley Learning team will continue working on virtual simulations and expanding its digital footprint. They are also looking at new ways to train people by embracing new technologies and finding ways to engage their customers through simulations, virtual reality, masterclasses, or webinar series. And with Zoom as a strong partner, Maudsley Learning will ensure it has the most effective tools to prepare healthcare professionals for any situation.