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New simulation suite provides immersive learning experience for healthcare students

16 December 2021

T Level students at Crawley College have been the first to step through the doors of a state-of-the-art health simulation suite.

The new facility offers them hands-on patient care which is as close as possible to the real thing.

The suite provides modern, innovative teaching methods which are applied to practice-based learning, which will helping to prepare them for work placements in care settings and hospitals – as well as provide vital insight into the care industry.

The suite, situated in the college’s modern Longley building, is a multi-purpose teaching room which mimics a hospital ward with technology and equipment which will be found in hospitals or care facilities. It also provides a 360-degree view of the training environment, with the ability to view scenarios remotely as well – as well as the opportunity to record and view sessions, allowing them to review their own work.

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said: “This is an amazing, immersive space which will enhance our students’ learning, as well as ensuring they are better prepared for what is to come when they start work placements or enter the industry.

“From a practical teaching view, it brings something new and gives our students a hands-on learning experience which will be invaluable for their development and their future careers in healthcare.

“I know our staff have put an enormous amount of work into this project, collaborating with industry professionals and taking the time to select equipment which puts them at the cutting-edge of teaching, providing a facility which will benefit students for years to come.”

The suite includes a patient simulator, giving students the chance to replicate a number of ‘real-life’ scenarios in a safe space. New equipment also includes an age simulation suite, which enables students to experience the impairments faced by older people such as joint stiffness, mobility restrictions and visual impairment.

Sam, a first year T Level Health student at Crawley College, demonstrated the suit at the official opening of the health suite. He said: “It’s quite incredible. It’s extremely limiting in what you can usually do – even just trying to bend your knee, you’re met with so much resistance. It’s quite a shock really!

“It makes you much more aware of the limits that some people have and it helps me to understand how I can approach those challenges as a healthcare practitioner.

“I think the health suite is absolutely fantastic, it’s a great environment for us to learn in.”

T Levels are new qualifications for school leavers, offering a technical alternative route into professional employment or higher education combining classroom learning with work placements, which form 20% of the students’ courses.

For health students, that will mean they will spend a large amount of time learning in hospitals or care settings.

Cheryl Giles, Practice Development Matron at University Hospital Sussex, was among some of the industry professionals at the opening of the new Health Simulation Suite at Crawley College – and she was impressed by the facilities on offer to students.

She said: “Having been involved in conversations around T Levels for a while now, it’s really good to see the environment these students are learning in.

“It’s impressive to see how immersive the college is making that learning, so that the students will be better prepared when they come into a ward environment.

“It is intimidating to be on a ward for the first time – even if you’re used to working in hospitals. So, it isn’t going to be easy for these young students which is why it’s really good that they will have an idea of what it’s like before setting foot into that environment.

“I’m really impressed by the hard work of the team at Crawley College and what they’ve put together.”

Jill Durrant, T Level Project Manager at Sussex Health and Care Partnership, added: “It’s fantastic to see this innovative training facility, and how students are being taught.

“T Levels are key to the future of the sector, which is why we’ve set up a Sussex-wide T Level working group to support, implement and deliver T Levels in Health and Healthcare which will give us a more strategic approach to their delivery in workplaces.

“We work with all the main NHS Trust, all of the local colleges, ambulance service and social care providers to get a broader understanding of it and our role in their delivery.

“It’s really great we can bring young people into our settings and give them an understanding of the NHS and care sector, because they are the future workforce and it’s important they are provided with opportunities that help them succeed and thrive.

“We’re bringing everyone together to ensure there’s a consistent approach, right down to provided specialist ‘T Level’ uniforms when they are in settings.”

To find out more about studying at Crawley College, please visit