Edinburgh College and Edinburgh University have teamed up to launch a digital care hub, designed to address the national skills gaps in technology-enabled care.

The facility, located at the college’s Sighthill Campus, will equip students with the transferrable skills required to fulfil a successful career in areas including health, social care, dental and pharmacy.

The hub will focus on building students’ digital and practical expertise through its “state-of-the-art” equipment, supporting experiential learning in a purpose-built setting.

It features a virtual reality room, designed to give aspiring health workers an immersive experience which demonstrates how a patient with dementia experiences day-to-day life. 

Within the care hub students have access to realistic patient simulators with true-to-life responsiveness, in a variety of care settings, enabling them to develop patient testing and care skills.

In addition, it contains a replica medical ward with patient room, toilet and wet room facilities; an infection control and decontamination area; a reflection room; and a care at home room.

Also key to the role of the digital care hub is embedding the principles of professionalism amongst students and fostering the behavioural skills required to work in a care environment including communication, nurture, resilience, initiative and leadership.

The new space caters specifically to school pupils too, providing an “agile pathway” to a career in health and social care with the Social Care Academy.

As part of the programme, pupils study units in digital skills for health and social care, mental health, the human body, infection prevention and control and safe beginners for health and social care.

After successfully completing the course, they are able to progress on to further studies with the college or university or advance into employment. 

The digital care hub was launched during an event attended by representatives from key institutions connected to the college and the new hub, and brought together those with a collective interest in supporting the future of the health and care sector. 

Audrey Cumberford, Edinburgh College principal and chief executive, said: “The Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of our health and care workers across the country and through addressing the national skills gaps in digital enabled care, the Digital Care Hub, through partnership working with industry, is ready to provide a pipeline of future workers equipped with the skills and knowledge required to meet the demands of the sector and population.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are delighted to work with Edinburgh College on the Digital Care Hub, which will be an excellent resource for those considering a career within health and social care. Harnessing technology to support learning in this way and simulate real-life scenarios in the workplace will enable students to make informed choices about their future, built on their own ambitions and potential.”

Professor Jonathan Seckl, senior vice-principal, the University of Edinburgh, added: “The Digital Care Hub is an exceptional facility for students considering a career within health and social care.  It uses cutting-edge simulation technology and real life scenarios to support learning for 21st century healthcare jobs.  It will enable students to make rapid progress, gain skills and make informed choices about their future careers.  

“This innovative partnership with Edinburgh College offers a completely new approach to support learners exploring a career in healthcare professions.  This is a new horizon for both the College and the University. I hope it is the forerunner of similar technology-enabled programmes to support talented learners towards skilled work via the College, the University or both.”