Using sequential simulation to tell the patient journey in White City

Last May, I was lucky enough to take part in the ‘How do you help your unwell child?’ event at White City Community Centre, organised by CC4C in collaboration with the Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS ).

What is sequential simulation?

Sequential simulation involves re-enacting key points in a patient’s journey through the healthcare system. It is a bit like a theatre play, although the scenarios presented are typically based on real-life experiences. Actors play the roles of patients or family members, with real clinicians performing the roles they do every day at work. That’s where I come in – I channelled my inner George Clooney and did my best to convince as an urgent care centre GP.

Designing the event

The event was the result of ICCESS’s Ambreen Imran and CC4C’s Dr Ben Holden’s hard work. The script was a mix of local parents’ stories, painstakingly designed to echo authentic experiences. As Ben says, ‘It is important for us to work in partnership with patients, instead of professionals deciding what is best for them from afar. We involve local families from the outset, so that we understand what is important to them and can design our services accordingly.’

Lights! Camera! Action!

The event brought together over thirty parents and clinicians to demonstrate how a mother and her unwell baby experience the modern healthcare system. The simulation followed the story of Anne and baby Tom, starting with concerned questions to a fictional ‘White City Mums’ WhatsApp group, progressing to an appointment with the GP and a trip to the pharmacist. The simulation demonstrated how bewildering it can be for a parent, being shuttled from service to service, receiving different information from every angle, not knowing what to trust and all the time being anxious about the wellbeing of their child.

The simulation then moved into a stimulating discussion between small groups of parents. How did this compare with their experiences? How did they feel services could be improved, so that a journey such as Anne and Tom’s would be less scary and stressful? Meanwhile, the clinicians were present ‘in listening mode’ – rather than instructing and educating, this was an opportunity for us to learn from our patients.

I want to thank Ben and Ambreen for involving me in such an inspiring event: it was a true example of grassroots public engagement to improve patient experiences through open discussion and education.

Some footage and interviews from the day can be seen here.