How Do You Restart Face-to-Face Training Amid a Global Pandemic?

11 August 2020
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

Face-to-face MAPA® training has resumed safely at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare. Certified Instructor, Restraint Reduction Lead and IPC/PH specialist nurse, Robert Sillito tells us how they did it.

Since March 23rd the UK has been in lockdown and hopefully (all being well) we are starting to come through to the other side.

Around about the same time here at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare, all face-to-face training was cancelled to ensure the safety of all of our staff. This included all MAPA® programmes including the five-day foundation courses and MAPA® refreshers.

But how do we ensure the safety of our staff and our patients through these uncertain times?

For our existing staff who were due to have refreshers, we developed videos with our very own Certified Instructors teaching the skills for physical interventions.

But what about the new staff that had started with our Trust? Well, we (as a team) were keen to recommence MAPA® 5-day Foundation programmes as soon as it was safe. This was echoed by our Clinical and Professional Advisory Group (CPAG).

It was highlighted by ward teams that they were concerned that a lot of new staff starting on the wards had not received any training.

Rob Training Group

We had recently had an intake of student nurses that were employed by the Trust as band 4s. Therefore, we sat down as a team and discussed how we felt we could deliver face-to-face training safely but not lose any of its credibility or important factors.

Clearly, there was some anxiety about how we would be able to facilitate this training after so long. Another potential stumbling block was the practical side of the training; the physical holding.

The venue that we had been using for a number of years would only allow up to five staff with the 2m social distancing in place. In addition, the trainers and participants may need to wear masks for the duration of the course. How would this impact on communication and comfort? We had all of these factors to contend with and it wasn't surprising that there were anxieties.

Finding a suitable venue was relatively easy. We have the luxury of having a sports hall on site, which, because of government restrictions, wasn’t being used by patients. This space allowed us to have 12 participants and two trainers in the same area, all with 2m spacing.

As you can see in the picture, the staff are not wearing masks. Alongside the health and safety advisor for the Trust, I managed to ensure that the sports hall was deemed as a ‘COVID secure’ area. Meaning that if staff were able to socially distance, the constant wearing of masks was not deemed necessary (although we gave the option to staff that they could wear a mask if they felt safer doing so).

Masks would be worn by all participants and trainers when in close contact, so during demonstration and practice of physical holding skills, disengagements and any group work completed.

With regards to the close physical contact and participants’ hands, we explored two different options:

Option 1: All staff to wear gloves when in close physical contact.

Option 2: All staff to have individualised hand sanitiser and to hand sanitise before and after physical contact.

We decided (with support from CPAG) to go with option 2.

We ran two consecutive weeks of 5-day MAPA® courses in July. We had 21 staff from all inpatient areas attend the courses, all with varying experiences and job roles.

The feedback received in relation to the course was very positive from all participants. All staff stated that they felt safe during the course, and that all relevant safety precautions were put into place in relation to COVID-19.

During the course, the use of hand sanitiser at regular intervals (before and after physical contact) and the use of masks when in close proximity were highlighted as the main reasons that the staff felt safe.

Rob Training Group Certificates

Other factors included the ability to socially distance throughout the course and the in-depth knowledge of the trainers.

The feedback from the Certified Instructors who did the training (including myself, who thoroughly enjoyed getting back into training) was very positive.

The key theme that has come out of the feedback from instructors is adaptation. The need to adapt – the way in which we teach, the way in which we communicate and the way in which the participants adapted to any changes put into place.  

We are looking forward to continuing to deliver the 5-day MAPA® foundation courses and in September we are looking at recommencing MAPA® 2-day refreshers.

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