In 2020 many healthcare students lost placement hours due to COVID-19. In response to this crisis, simulated placements were implemented to ensure students were able to achieve their practice hours. A pilot project was undertaken in November 2020. This was then developed at pace into a simulated placement module that could accommodate around 3,500 students by the start of January 2021. Nursing and Midwifery Council guidance was updated in February 2021 
to suggest all nursing students in the UK may access 300 hours of simulated learning and this could include face to face, online live and online self-directed simulated learning.
The study aimed to enable nursing students to maintain their hours as required by the NMC, and provide evidence to demonstrate achievement of their competencies. It also aimed to ensure patients and service users from all fields were represented within the activities.
A module blackboard site was developed online to house the materials. Each activity was mapped to the cohort-specific proficiencies which needed to be achieved for that particular level of study (BSc and MSc). A wide range of activities were included such as Oxford Medical Simulation, detailed case studies and scenarios including ‘talking head’ style videos and patient documentation, service user interviews, analysing Care Opinion patient feedback, and 360-degree tours of a patient’s home to undertake a risk assessment.
Students were able to access the simulated placements if waiting for a clinical placement due to lack of availability, if course completion was delayed due to ‘opting out’, or if the student was self-isolating or shielding. Students received comprehensive guidance as well as regular YouTube updates to walk them through the process. A mixture of live online sessions and self-directed activities were included and engagement was logged on a placement timesheet. There were also activities and live sessions focussing on student well-being and preparation for placements. It was also important to include activities focussing on other fields of nursing such as mother and baby or learning disabilities. A reflection was then uploaded to the digital placement assessment document so that it could be accessed virtually by the practice assessor and academic assessor. The simulated placements have since expanded into the Allied Health Professional courses within the university and it has been valuable to undertake interprofessional resource sharing to further enhance the simulated placements experience.