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Swansea Bay father and daughter team up to save lives by creating UK-wide safety course

A Swansea Bay father and daughter team have created a new UK-wide training resource which could prove to be a real life-saver.

Paul Lee, Head of Medical Equipment Management Services (MEMS) and his daughter Jordan, who has no formal medical training but holds an MA in English Literature, have worked together for more than a year in their spare time to create an e-learning course and 70-page workbook to train staff in the safe handling and use of medical gases and cylinders used in healthcare.

The training, which went live last month, has been added to the National E-Learning For Health portal, an award-winning website with more than two million registered users providing online training for health and social care staff across the UK.

The duo decided to put their heads together and create the online training and workbook due in part to Paul’s experiences while working as a UK-wide patient safety lead in 2017.

“I was investigating accidental deaths with medical devices and one of the deaths I investigated, believe it or not, was around the use of a medical oxygen cylinder because someone didn’t know how to switch it on correctly,” said Paul.

“Because of their design, staff have not known how to use them properly, and oxygen cylinders have been involved in a number of patient fatalities and hundreds of near misses.

“We believe this course will be the go-to for all staff, pretty much, who work in the NHS.”

The course builds upon training Paul had previously devised for Swansea Bay, which was subsequently shared and adopted by health boards across Wales and covers every staff role involved in the use of medical gases and cylinder safety, plus the full range of products.

The Covid pandemic, when the extensive use of oxygen became the norm for many health care staff, served to heighten Paul’s concerns that a deficit in knowledge was putting patient safety at risk.

So following a request for help he decided to take the bull by the horns and fill the knowledge gap, a task made significantly easier thanks to the help of Jordan and an organisation called the National Association of Medical Device Educators and Trainers, which Paul himself helped establish in 2011.

The Association now numbers some 1,500 members across the UK and provided the network of expertise Paul and Jordan needed to ensure their course delivers the right training for all the NHS staff who need it.

Paul said: “Over the last ten to 15 years I’ve developed lots of useful resources, training, videos and all sorts of materials that have been shared among colleagues in Wales and England who have had literally no provision for this.

“The need is there. Outside work, Jordan, myself and other colleagues run the National Association of Medical Device Educators and Trainers, NAMDET for short.

“It started with only a handful of us, mainly from Wales and England. We now have our own website, regular journal, training materials and we link in with the safety teams at the Department of Health.

“In particular, we link in with the National E-Learning Programme (E-Learning for Health).

“E-Learning for Health is the go-to place for UK-wide training resources and up until now there has never, ever been anything for medical gases and cylinder safety.

“So we were asked as NAMDET to put together this national learning course and Jordan and I led a project team and pretty much did all the work. We designed an interactive training resource that is free to all NHS staff across the UK.

“And to support that, which is where Jordan’s creativity and artistic temperament comes in, she developed the spin-off from the course - for once you’ve successfully completed it - which is the workbook.

“This is a 70-page training resource which is very cleverly designed, with hyperlinks, links to other training and once people have successfully completed the online training, they then get access to download a personal copy.” 

Jordan’s creative background has proved vital in delivering not only the course and workbook but also the wider work of NAMDET.

“I started helping out with NAMDET in late 2019 having completed my MA a year earlier,” said Jordan.

“I used to just do the photographs for conferences but a couple of months after, I became the managing editor of the association’s quarterly journal.

“I did that self-employed for two years and now, I also work for the Medical School at the Education Centre in Morriston.

“Alongside my team in the Medical School, I help organise placements for the students who are part of the Graduate Entry in Medicine programme (GEM), and I have a primary responsibility for Acute Surgery as I am the placement co-ordinator.

“I thoroughly enjoy it! I’ve been learning about surgery in the day, then learning about medical gas safety in the evening through putting the workbook together. It’s really been amazing.

“I’d like to think that when the undergraduate students I’m working with progress through their careers, they may actually use this workbook; they may actually get sent training documents that I’ve worked on.”

Paul and Jordan’s training material can be regularly updated as and when there are changes in guidance and practices around the handling of medical gases and cylinder safety.

“The training course is 60 minutes long with seven modules, covering everything from medical gas cylinder colour codes to patient safety. It’s a live document so it’s constantly being reviewed,” added Paul.

“If there are any major changes, we can update the course and it’s done in 24 hours.

“Over 300 hours of work has gone into it; evenings and weekends. We’ve worked with my NAMDET colleagues across the UK.

“It’s the Swansea Bay course, obviously grown slightly, and it was launched at the start of September across the UK on the E-Learning for Health programme.

“I’ve spoken to ESR and NHS Learning Wales and it’s going to be put on there. That will just be an easy go-to and it’ll link straight through to this course.

“It’s not aimed at one group of staff. It’s aimed at nurses, doctors, pharmacists, technicians, porters, engineers. It’s aimed at anybody who moves, delivers, checks, uses, sets up and handles medical gases and cylinders.

“That includes oxygen, medical air, nitrous oxide, entonox, carbon dioxide… so it’s a multi-factorial, multi-disciplinary training resource and the feedback we’ve had so far has been absolutely exceptional.

“We’ve had input in terms of the content, so we’ve had pharmacists, engineers, the MHRA and BOC - the biggest supplier of medical gases – they have all commented.

“All the knowledge, all the training is now in this very fancy, interactive video-based training course which has actually taken my Swansea Bay training course on ten years.

 “We’ve got card-learning exercises where you have to flip cards over, interactive knowledge checks, links to videos, embedded videos and a final quiz at the end which is a random selection of 15 questions which change every time you use the course.

“It’s getting the knowledge out there and I think we’ve filled a gap. It doesn’t cover absolutely everything because there is lots of additional training as well but the basic, bare minimum of everything everybody needs to know for this subject is there. It’s done. So, use it!”

As for the father and daughter dynamic, both Paul and Jordan are happy to report the project has only served to demonstrate how well ‘Team Lee’ can work together!

“It’s been brilliant. Working with Jordan has been a synergy… she’s got to the point where she almost knows what I’m going to be asking next,” added Paul.

“That bit’s quite scary, actually!” was Jordan’s response.

She continued: “Because I’ve got that English Literature mind-set, I can read the information in the software and go back to dad and say ‘that doesn’t actually make sense’ or ‘this is missing’…but when I was working on the handbook, even I would go word blind! So dad would read the work and pick out any errors.

“It was a good balance between us considering so many hours have been spent on it.”

Paul added: “That’s why the NAMDET colleagues we engaged with at the end were so important to us. It was probably too much to have everyone involved from the start so we did the bulk of the work but we get them engaged and they were seeing stuff and fine-tuned it… they mixed the final edition if you like!

“It’s already being used by people across the UK, which is fantastic. This course, I think, will now be the go-to course for all health care staff.”

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