Forward thinking educational facility celebrates first anniversary

3 May 2019 11:36
Published by: Kian French

An innovative and inspirational educational facility at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating the first anniversary of its opening.

The LIFE Centre (Learning Inspirations for Future Employment) is a flagship project which aims to inspire, educate and support a wide range of students from the age of five upwards to promote a career in healthcare with the NHS. The centre opened on the 27th April 2018 with funding support from Health Education England and the Cumbria and Lancashire Local Workforce Action Board.

The LIFE Centre is situated at Chorley and South Ribble District Hospital and includes features such as mocked up ward areas, a mobile educational unit, augmented reality training and 360-degree virtual reality headsets in a cinema room. The community facility is available to other Lancashire based hospitals, community healthcare centres and public funded schools and colleges to deliver activities that will inspire careers within the NHS. This forward-thinking facility will support a much-needed knowledgeable future workforce.

The exciting new learning environment consists of several exciting and innovative features such as:

  • Mocked up ward areas including an emergency department, triage room and x-ray room; which gives students the opportunity to experience what it's really like to work in a variety of professional roles. All of these rooms contain cameras which link up to education rooms in the facility where students can watch and learn from what is happening.
  • A Mobile Education Unit, which can visit local schools and colleges to provide easier and more flexible access to healthcare career and education opportunities.
  • Virtual reality headsets in a 'cinema room' where you can view 360-degree videos and experience medical situations first hand such as being inside an operating theatre or exploring anatomy.
  • Whiteboard walls where ideas can be shared, as well as interactive smart TVs where you can pause footage to draw on the screen e.g. circle an error when viewing the footage from the ward areas.
  • Augmented reality training using iPads to view various human organs and learn how they work, and the use of QR codes to locate body parts around the centre and "build a body"; perfect for young children.

Jackie Higham, Widening Participation Manager at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals led on the development of the facility and ensured that it was built to maximise the space and learning opportunities for people from a wide range of age groups, backgrounds and abilities. Jackie said: "The aim of this widening participation facility is to highlight the importance of careers in the health sector and inspire people to undertake a career within the NHS. I am thrilled that all of the hard work and development of the LIFE Centre has paid off. It is an absolutely brilliant facility which has already begun to make a huge difference to our community and to provide people with an opportunity to learn in a real-life setting, which is helping to promote both clinical and non-clinical NHS careers."

Since the centre opened, 190 primary school children and 161 high school students have visited the centre. The centre has also held 76 maths and English sessions supporting existing staff, apprentices and new applicants into NHS jobs who need the qualifications to progress, The centre has also held work experience local induction days, preparation for nursing sessions, recruitment events, and a doctor for a day event.

Jackie said: "The centre has been able to provide so much more than we first though it would. It has hugely increased the number of places that we can allow on some of our programmes, has been used for creating training videos, and has enabled us to support students with learning difficulties to name just a few. It is a truly fantastic space and we hope to keep the momentum going for the centre every year."

To mark the one-year anniversary of the LIFE Centre, an open day will be held on Wednesday 22nd May from 1:30 - 4:30pm for guests to drop in and have a look around, meet some of the students, have a go at activities and enjoy some light refreshments. Visitors will also be invited to leave comments on the whiteboard wall on any ideas on what we could do to engage with the community and promote NHS careers.

Karen Partington, Chief Executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: "We are absolutely delighted to have developed this fantastic facility to enable students and young people to have a fun and interactive place to learn about a career within an NHS profession. This new facility will make a real difference to the local community and NHS organisations more broadly, so we could not be happier that we are able to provide, with funding and support from Health Education England and other local partners, this amazing facility based at Chorley and South Ribble hospital."

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