Meet Simon: A robot-like patient simulator for mental health staff to practice on

Scarlett Hallin, Cathryn Davy and Lynne Wyatt with Simon the Sim Man which Norfolk and Suffolk NHS F

Scarlett Hallin, Cathryn Davy and Lynne Wyatt with Simon the Sim Man which Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are using for staff and trainees to practice diagnosing and work on.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

In many respects Simon is a typical patient. He can blink, breathe, cough, talk to medical staff, and his blood pressure, puls, and heart-rate can all fluctuate like a normal person.

But Simon does not have a heart, lungs, or even a personality because he is a 'Sim Man', a patient simulator on whom staff at the region's mental health trust can practice their medical skills.

He is based at Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich, run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), where all staff on inpatient wards will be training on him.

Lynne Wyatt, physical health team lead at NSFT, said the trust wants to treat patients holistically by covering both his or her psychiatric and physical symptoms.

'With Simon we can create a situation which is as real as possible,' she added.

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'It's a different type of learning but more realistic.

Simon is controlled remotely and can be programmed to have a variety of health conditions, which can improve or worsen at the touch of a button.

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He can also be used to simulate emergency situations such as having his airway blocked, a drugs overdose, or bleeding on the brain.

Training sessions with Simon will focus on prompting staff to think about whether someone's physical symptoms are being caused by their poor mental health.

Cathryn Davy, a physical health nurse, said: 'I think it's a really important tool for the staff because it means they can mistakes in a protected learning environment.

'Simon helps staff's awareness of patients' physical health conditions.'

NSFT was given a grant of £27,000 from Health Education East of England towards Simon's overall cost of around £40,000.

Miss Wyatt said she hoped the trust would be able to fund a second sim man for Suffolk, which would be based at the Wedgewood Unit, in Bury St Edmunds.

Jane Sayer, director of nursing at the trust, said: 'People with mental health problems can be agitated so being able to recreate those scenarios in a safe environment will be incredibly valuable for our staff.'

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