Simulations for Empathic Care Workshop

In collaboration with Columbia University's Digital Storytelling Lab, we hosted a workshop to explore how simulations could be used to help patients and caregivers develop skills and prepare to navigate care for themselves or those they care about.

Simulations are a common tool in clinician training giving medical students a safe space to practice the art of diagnosis and communication with patients. We think simulation could have benefit for patients and caregivers by giving them spaces to experiment with how to share and hear challenging information. 

Some feedback from people who participated:

“What amazed me was how differently we all think. In a group of five of us working together our different minds turned things inside out and upside down, each of us looking through our own unique perspective. When you open yourself to using and building on that, solutions you would not have seen somehow magically appear.”  

"The event was excellent.  It infused creativity and down-to-Earth creativity into a challenging and highly sensitive field.  Some of the ideas conceived (i.e. situations game, apps, plays) were very cool and gave a good idea to simplify and ease into healthcare situations."

"I was inspired by the groups of people who were actively seeking alternative viewpoints, hoping to make the healthcare experience something that focused on patient well-being and whole-person care instead of checking boxes on a form.  As a patient advocate, I feel the clinical encounter can be changed - for the better - by empowering patients to raise their voices."

A look at some of the simulations that were created at the workshop:

The "breaking your leg while skiing" simulation allows patients and caregivers to explore issues related to accidents, navigating care away from home, dealing with family and friends, and managing insurance and out-of-network care experiences.

The "navigating uncertainty" game allows people to consider their resources and then respond to health events that added to and subtracted from those resources (Like the game Life but with more of a health and resilience focus)

The "shake it like you care" simulation is an app and community game that takes people through exercises to 1) build skills around awareness of who needs care 2) practice asking for care 3) practice offering care.

Caregiving Day 1 to Day 30 considers intense caregiving episodes like those at end-of-life or after significant episodes. The activity gives people exposure to the types of discussions and decisions that will likely occur and how the experience will change over time. It introduces the idea of inner voice and outer voice (What you’re thinking and what you actually say) as a tool for the complex feelings that can accompany these moments

The "what to expect at the fertility doctor" simulation gives people (women and partners) exposure to the practical and emotional experiences that will make up their engagement with a fertility clinic with a particular emphasis on how it might change over time.

Storytelling is a huge part of the life experience and should be a bigger part of the healthcare experience. Let us know if you think you or people you know would benefit from these kinds of simulations - or if there are others you can think of that would help you develop and hone the skills you need to advocate for yourself. Thanks to everyone who participated and to our partners in creating and delivering this event