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Consumer simulation reaps rewards

Retired medical practice manager Sue Gilbert, has no acting experience, but you wouldn’t know it after watching her play the lead role in a medical simulation to train doctors and nurses at Frankston Hospital.

Last year Peninsula Health started the Consumer-Simulated Patient Program, where four consumers play the role of patients and family members in training simulations.

Sue, a consumer representative and volunteer at Peninsula Health, uses her insight from working in the healthcare field and her own experiences as a patient to get into character for each scenario.

“One particular situation involved my father collapsing at home before he was rushed to hospital to try to resuscitate him,” recalls Sue, describing a simulation where she played the concerned relative.

“Afterwards the doctor said the scenario was so realistic he had tears in his eyes when he was talking to me. It is so valuable to have something more lifelike than a manikin for staff to learn communication skills.”

“Consumers are a fantastic addition to the Simulation team, adding a depth of engagemen and genuine communication with participants,” explains Joy Davis who manages the Simulation Centre at Frankston Hospital.

“They also provide valuable feedback from the consumer’s perspective in debrief sessions.”

As well as helping to train the next generation of healthcare professionals, Sue is active on numerous Peninsula Health committees and an Assistance and Care in Emergency (ACE) Volunteer at Rosebud Hospital Emergency Department (ED).

“I’m passionate about person-centred care and the wellbeing of older people, which is why I became a Consumer Representative,” says Sue.

“At committee meetings I ask questions and provide input as to how the community feels about a topic. In the ED, I’m there to try and make at least one person’s life more comfortable in a situation where they may be frightened or stressed.”

“I like to think that if I ever needed to be in hospital, there would be a volunteer there to support me.”

Last year Sue was made a Life Governor of Peninsula Health, in recognition of her 10 years service to the organisation.

“That was a big highlight for me,” says the Rye local.

“Peninsula Health has always been so welcoming to volunteers. They encourage them, mentor them and appreciate them. It’s a great organisation to volunteer for.”


More than 800 volunteers complement the care and treatment of patients and clients across Peninsula Health.

There are opportunities available for both volunteers and consumer representatives.

To learn more about the role that might best suit your interests, please head to our website www.peninsulahealth.org.au/community-participation or call 9788 1501.

This story was first published in the Autumn edition of Connection Magazine. Read the full edition online here.