Due to the sudden shift in online learning at the start of the pandemic, an innovative idea was identified to encourage a student-centred approach for continuing the development of their essential skills whilst learning from home. Taking inspiration from other healthcare programmes, we developed, and risk assessed ‘Skills@Home’ packages to embed a mastery learning approach towards dexterous skills. These comprehensive packages included access to virtual resources and e-learning as well as practical and safety equipment. Implementation of these packages allowed students to maximize their exposure, experience and understanding of a range of skills that could be accessed at a time and pace to suit their needs. The pilot ‘Skills@Home’ package focussed upon the development of suturing, which is a traditional and essential midwifery skill.
A collaborative approach between the midwifery team and the clinical simulation and skills education team ensured a robust approach to the risk assessment, procurement and delivery of packages to students’ home addresses. A pre-requisite for receiving a pack was the completion and return of a detailed student agreement form which outlined safety considerations and their responsibilities. The package was piloted with a cohort of 29 third-year student midwives, as a priority group, to facilitate and increase confidence and application in the clinical area and to ensure enough opportunities for progression on the programme.
Students completed an online evaluation form after receiving their packs, which showed overwhelming support for this approach. Students identified that having the opportunity to learn in this manner at home not only enhanced their confidence and skills technique but also helped them to relate theory to practice. Additionally, students identified that they would like to see the ‘Skills@Home’ approach sustained and enhanced once on-campus learning has resumed.
This has inspired the clinical simulation and skills education team to identify other Skills@Home packages that can be used within healthcare learning. Ensuring that thorough risk assessments are completed along with the packages being created and delivered to the students in the most cost-effective way. Following the pilot study, ethics approval is currently being sought to explore, using focus groups, the midwifery students’ experiences and view of using the Skills@Home initiative.