New at SAMK – simulations with an expert by experience

This spring, SAMK has organised training and simulation sessions for the students of nursing and social services as well as for professionals already in working life. The experiences have been very positive.

Keskustelu Kokeilimossa. Kaksi opiskelijaa haastatteee kokemusasiantuntijaa pöydän ääressä.

The simulations take place in Kokeilimo (a space simulating an accessible home at SAMK Campus Pori). In the picture, expert by experience Noora Ojala (left), in a simulation session with “Jasmin” and nursing students Ridma Senanayake Mudiyanselage and Clothilde Fem.

The objective of expert-by-experience activities is to increase client orientation and understanding. The idea is that a person who has experienced a particular illness or crisis, for example, wants to train as an expert by experience and share their knowledge from the perspective of a client.

– Fortunately, it is considered nowadays that the best results are achieved by combining professional knowledge with experiential knowledge. This brings a new perspective to the development of services, says Senior Lecturer Minna Kahala. She is also a representative of SAMK in the steering group of expert-by-experience activities in Satakunta.

Kahala says that mental health work and substance abuse work are leading the way in this matter.

– We have been developing and appreciating the value of experts by experience for quite a long time. There is still work to be done, however.

Using simulations to prepare for different types of situations

Expert by experience Noora Ojala saw it as a unique opportunity to get involved. She was initially trained in theatre arts. Training experts by experience by way of theatre is also something nationally unique. The training was based on building self-confidence and discovering one’s strengths. Different types of simulation sessions have been organized after the training.

– I have been a mental health client since I was about 12 years old and have experienced many ups and downs with different kinds of workers. It’s important to be able to give students tips on what to do and what not to do, she says.

The simulations take place in SAMK’s Kokeilimo, where two students meet a client. The rest of the class follows the session via video link in the classroom. In the end, a joint debriefing is held to review the session. The learning situation and the role of the expert by experience in it are explained to them beforehand. Simulations can be used to prepare students for different types of situations. In some simulations, the client may be very agreeable, in others they may be resistant or aggressive.

Ojala feels that debriefings are really important.

– Last time, for example, we just discussed the importance of asking questions. I explained that it’s okay to ask questions directly, for example, she says.

– In simulation sessions, you can also make different gestures, for example. It is often said that for example when you have anxiety, you act in a certain way. In reality, you can act in all sorts of ways. Someone may not show their anxiety at all, someone else may be tense, and someone else may spin around in their chair.

A legal obligation to make use of experts by experience

At the turn of the year, a legal obligation came into force to make use of experts by experience in the development of services in the wellbeing services county.

The simulations are based on the project Understand the customer – the experience activity in the centre (Ymmärrä asiakasta – Kokemustoiminta keskiössä). The project enables the use of experts by experience in the degree programmes. The trainees have also included professionals from the fields of mental health and substance abuse work.

– Sessions and debriefings are more authentic and better when there is a real expert by experience involved, rather than a teacher and or a fellow student playing the role of the client, says Senior Lecturer Johanna Huhtala. She is particularly pleased that the project has also helped to train professionals in working life.

Students may have preconceptions about working with clients from different groups of people, for example.

– Here they see that there is no need to be afraid or nervous about different situations or people. The simulations lower the threshold to encounter people and may even give an incentive that this could be my future career, Huhtala reflects.

Päällekkäiset kädet, jotka pitelevät paperista sydäntä.

Students satisfied with simulations

In particular, the simulations teach students decision-making, methodological skills, bringing up topics and interaction.

They have enjoyed learning through simulation. Based on the feedback collected, all students found the simulation learning experience to be a positive one. All of them also felt that they had learned something new, both from the experience itself and from the debriefing with the expert by experience.

“The stories and experiences of the experts by experience made the simulation sessions more real. And it was great that they were able to describe well what it was like to meet the students in the situation. The cases were interesting.”

Student comment on the simulation

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