Background: Preparing families of children requiring long-term mechanical ventilation (LTMV) to manage medical emergencies at home is challenging. Opportunities for family caregivers to rehearse crisis management in a controlled setting before discharge are limited.
Objective: We aimed to create a multimodal discharge preparedness curriculum, incorporating high-fidelity simulation training, to prepare family caregivers of children with complex medical conditions requiring long-term mechanical ventilation. We sought to determine which curricular elements were most helpful and whether this curriculum impacted the rate of readmissions within 7 days of hospital discharge.
Methods: The curriculum included instructional videos, printed handouts, cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and two mandatory high fidelity simulation scenarios depicting tracheostomy- and ventilator-related emergencies. Teams of one to three family caregivers per patient managed each scenario. A video-based debriefing focused on identifying and closing performance gaps. Participants rated their perceptions regarding each curricular element and its relative impact on their preparedness for discharge.
Results: 87 family caregivers completed the curriculum. Simulation-enhanced curriculum was well-received by participants. Participants reported that post-simulation debriefing was the most beneficial component. We observed a trend toward reduced readmissions within 7 days of discharge since implementation of our revised curriculum.
Conclusion: Simulation training can be incorporated into discharge training for families of children requiring LTMV. Rehearsal of emergency management in a simulated clinical setting increases caregiver confidence to assume care for their ventilator-dependent child.