Intervention 1

Immersive Communication Skills Training

Intervention 1

This intervention aimed to increase the skills and intentions of those interacting with people living with spinal cord injury by developing rapport and understanding what is meaningful so relevant content is delivered.

Ensuring meaningful communication to people living with a spinal cord injury

Our exploration of the problem found that current practices involve health and social care professionals providing advice and content to people living with a spinal -cord injury (SCI) without, first, taking the time to connect and develop a rapport. This suggests a gap in interpersonal skills. Behaviour change theory recommends that this could be addressed through personalised training and practising communication through rehearsal in order to increase capability.

The key objective of this is to ensure that those who communicate with people living with a spinal cord injury as part of their professional role have the skills to understand what is meaningful to the people they are talking to. Doing this could help ensure that they can deliver relevant information.

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What the intervention involved

We designed an immersive communication skills training intervention, incorporating simulation and reflective exercises, with scenarios designed to explore the theme of ‘connection before content’. Co-facilitated by two experts: a trained actor and a writer / director who lives with a spinal cord injury, the session was designed to provide an opportunity for people to practise and build on their existing communication skills in a safe space.

A total of three 3.5 hour workshops were run: Two were aimed at frontline workers who communicate with people living with a spinal cord injury as part of their professional role, and one was aimed at leaders who lead or manage frontline workers.

The workshops commenced with a series of reflective exercises in order to set the scene and normalise the experience of delivering content before taking the time to connect with people. Participants then had the opportunity to act out and respond to scenarios, to reflect on feedback received from the group and to incorporate that feedback into their practice. 

"I really enjoyed it and think having a session like this earlier in my career would [have been] even more beneficial"

What did we find?

Participants of the workshop generally agreed that the training was relevant and informative for their role, and that the content was presented in an appropriate manner.

  • 100% of survey respondents said they would recommend the workshop to their colleagues
  • 78% of survey respondents had implemented learnings from the workshop into their work after one month
  • 89% of respondents had spoken to a colleague about the workshop after one month
  • Participants liked the interactive nature of the workshop, emphasising that it was engaging and well-paced
  • Participants noted the importance of having a facilitator with lived experience of a spinal cord injury, highlighting that it made the session feel ‘real and natural’
  • The facilitators were able to create a safe space for open conversations
  • Participants acknowledged the benefits they received from participating in a role play scenario and also from observing others and troubleshooting as a group
  • Participants enjoyed the group discussion aspects of the workshop, including hearing about others’ roles and experiences noting that it was ‘great to have a mix of people from different roles and organisations’ 
“I found the session to be useful and it prompted me to reflect on my own practice”

Next steps

This trial helped to gather constructive feedback that could be used to further refine the sessions for future delivery. Future efforts would involve targeting both people at the beginning of their career and those who are more senior. They would also incorporate more opportunities for reflection from the lived experience perspective. 

For those interested in incorporating simulation training into your work, read this blog about what simulation training looks like or get in touch to enquire.