Interprofessional education for practice: moving and handling for people with complex needs in contemporary healthcare.


Obesity is a growing problem in the UK affecting all areas of the NHS, with over a quarter of all adults falling into this category. The additional risks and co-mobidities that obesity is linked with leads to a high number of hospital admissions.

The multidisciplinary teams working with these people require appropriate knowledge and skills to deliver safe and effective care, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2014) recommending that staff be appropriately trained to use specialist equipment when working with this complex group of people.

Research has shown that interprofessional team working can play an important part in improving patient safety. This report details the process an interprofessional team have undertaken to develop a simulated bariatric scenario as part of the learning materials that complement practical moving and handling sessions for undergraduate students.


In order to support our students learning and development of practical skills our team of physiotherapists, nurses, midwives, occupational therapists and operating department practitioners have produced interactive learning materials and instructional videos for a number of moving and handling procedures. Using a specialist bariatric suit and equipment we designed a simulated experience that involves assisting the person/patient to change position, moving within the bed and from the bed to the chair.

Members of the team practice all scenarios prior to introducing them to students, and worked through this scenario in a simulated clinical area. Undertaking the session in this manner has proven useful, giving rise to team discussions regarding knowledge, techniques and resources.


Working through the scenario required continual reflection our performance to understand and adapt practice, with open dialogue in problem solving facilitating exploration of new ideas to develop techniques and confidence.

Key themes relating to the exercise include communication, interpersonal and practical handling skills, and resources. Of particular impact was that of resources; time and space, number of staff and equipment and how these factors contribute to successful completion of the task as a whole. The process of open dialogue relating to problem solving is viewed as a key factor prior to the transference of the simulated scenario for pre-registration student learning. The simulated activity improved our understanding of the difficulties in employing usual moving and handling techniques with people with complex needs and the implications this may have for student learning.

Interprofessional education within health care can lead to enhanced student learning, greater patient safety and understanding of team working common in the health care workplace. Introducing staff and then students to a safe and effective team approach using bariatric equipment seeks to prepare the students for practice placements and their future workplace.


Following this experience we plan to pilot the session with a group of pre-registration healthcare professional students.

Top three learning points

Our top three learning points relate to the benefits of interprofessional team working and learning together

  1. Being open and confident/happy to learn from each other and explore new ideas.
  2. Being able to appreciate that as individuals we do not have all the answers but by working with and learning from each other we can find solutions.
  3. Having a team member wear the suit allowed them to convey their feelings of this experience to the rest of the team.

Funding acknowledgements


Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019

Please see the attached Innovations poster below.

For further information about this work please contact Jill Gilthorpe


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