Heidi Singleton

Heidi Singleton

  • Lecturer In Children and Young Peoples Nursing
  • BGB
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Heidi's route through academia in the UK has led her to Children’s and Young People’s Nursing, a research field that she feels extremely passionate about.

"Blending evidence based practice with innovative ideas to engage and keep pace with the changing nursing landscape should be at the heart of nurse education.” The core of her work "focuses on how technology (in particular Virtual Reality) can engage and improve student nurses’ understanding of complex concepts".

Having joined BU as Lecturer of Children’s and Young People’s Nursing, Heidi brings a range of experience to the role. Having trained as a CYP Nurse at the University of Surrey, she worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Southampton School of Nursing. Next, obtaining a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and a Master’s Degree in Education, and has just completed Doctoral studies at BU.

Heidi is about to co-lead a Cochrane Review entitled: Psychological and educational interventions for atopic eczema in children.

In her spare time, Heidi enjoys walking and Yoga.


Heidi has conducted a research study comparing the use of a virtual reality training simulation to traditional nurse education methods. The study was chosen as a Fusion Case study and the link can be found here: https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/why-bu/fusion/using-virtual-reality-train-nurses Together with diabetes expert Dr Janet James and diabetes specialist nurse Simone Penfold, Heidi focused on developing a patient case study to teach student nurses how to effectively treat a diabetic emergency – hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia is a medical emergency experienced by diabetics where their blood sugar drops too low. Hypoglycaemia was chosen as the focus of the work because an increasing number of patients admitted to hospital also have diabetes as a secondary condition so it’s becoming ever more important that nurses understand how to treat hypoglycaemia. In the case study, a patient is admitted to hospital and then experiences hypoglycaemia. The patient’s condition deteriorates and throughout the scenario the student is given a number of choices and their decision affects the patient’s outcome. Technology company Daden worked closely with the BU team to create an app based on the case study that simulates the emergency. The software can be used on computers, immersive technology including Oculus Rift and mobile phones with virtual reality (VR) headsets to really bring the experience to life. The simulation was carefully created to be both accurate and realistic – the setting is based on wards at Royal Bournemouth Hospital that the student nurses have worked in and the software has replicated the same equipment used within the wards so the experience is familiar to the student nurses...


Heidi is a member of the research centre N4LTH.


Heidi has just completed her Doctoral Thesis.

Singleton, H., 2020. Virtual technologies in nurse education: the pairing of critical realism with partial least squares structural equation modelling as an evaluation methodology. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral).


Background: Virtual technologies have been, and continue to be, of significant interest to Higher Education (HE) educators. There have been many research studies carried out into the efficacy and acceptability of these technologies. But, this research (via a systematic literature review) found that there are significant methodological shortcomings in many of those studies, particularly with respect to understanding the mechanisms of the effect of virtual technologies on learning. Most papers were superficial and concentrated on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) of usability and ease of use. Some carried out perfunctory assessments of learning effect, but predominantly by measuring student enjoyment via subjective self-reporting. This thesis responded to this gap in the literature by implementing a non-immersive virtual reality (VR) (accessed via a laptop), educational simulation of a deteriorating diabetic patient and creating a novel and powerful method to evaluate the effect of that simulation on nurse education. Method: The systematic review of the literature led to the creation of a diabetes VR simulator. A novel approach was designed to evaluate this simulator which consisted of the pairing of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) (n=171), analysed via Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM)...


VR Chillout Zone: Immersive virtual reality to distract from itch for children with moderate to severe eczema.

Atopic eczema, (atopic dermatitis (AD) is a long-term inflammatory skin condition and one of the commonest childhood illnesses. It is a debilitating disease with high levels of disease burden for the patient (Blakeway 2020). The main symptoms are itch and dryness. AD is the most common long-term disorder, affecting up to 20% of children in industrialised countries (Tsakok 2019).

Standard treatment is trigger/irritant avoidance and regular application of emollients and topical steroids/calcineurin inhibitors (Wollenberg 2020). There have been concerns around steroid withdrawal amongst some patients who have very severe AD. Hence, non-pharmacological treatments are being sort.

In addition to educational programmes, a range of psychological therapies are used to treat children. These include mindfulness, relaxation, and guided imagery techniques to distract children from the scratch itch cycle that contributes to insomnia and impacts on quality of life (LeBovidge 2021). The last Cochrane review of Psychological and Educational interventions revealed no robust interventions to enhance effective guided imagery in this context (Ersser et al 2014). Furthermore, virtual reality (VR) has not been sufficiently applied to intervention development in dermatology.

Traditionally, guided imagery has been used in the form of audio scripts spoken to the patient to guide their imagination away from any stress and the itching sensation (Vagnoli 2019)...


Digital Human Coaches: merging algorithms and personality traits to scale organisational performance. Small HEIF fund project.

AQai (Adaptai Ltd) is a local Dorset SME comprising a small team of 5 full time people (including two founders). They are building a suite of AQ Assessments, AQ Skills Trainings, and a personalized AI powered digital AQ Coach, with an intelligent learning platform and licencing options are underway targeting global community of certified AQ coaches/consultants. The proposition is to deliver access by scaling coaching and training content in organisations through ‘AIDA’ (the name of the digital coach). The digital coach represents a 40x cost saving per user per hour against 1:1 human coaching, and will be designed for use on a range of devices (cf SMART phones, watches, Alexa, desktop VR etc).

IP and commercialisation outputs:

• AIDA is 18 months away in terms of delivery as a coaching platform. AQai are keen to build an ongoing partnership with BU, and this scalable model fits well with the technological innovation pathways of Dorset Clinical Health Commissioning Group (CCG) and the soon to be established Dorset Digital Hub for driving forward the Dorset Integrated Care Services.

• A licenced platform – the framework can be adapted for learning under licence and to meet client needs. AIDA can offer bespoke ‘coaching as a service’, customized and adapted for different contexts.

• Machine learning algorithm development is planned for the KTP activities which this body of work will feed into...


Journal Articles

  • Singleton, H., James, J., Falconer, L., Holley, D., Priego-Hernandez, J., Beavis, J., Burden, D. and Penfold, S., 2022. Effect of Non-Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation on Type 2 Diabetes Education for Nursing Students: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 66, 50-57.
  • Singleton, H., Holley, D., Arden-Close, E., Yang, X., Cui, Y. and Ersser, S., 2022. Virtual reality used to distract eczematous children from distressing symptoms: A pilot evaluation. Dermatological Nursing, 21 (1), 39-44.
  • Singleton, H., Heaslip, V., Ersser, S.J. et al., 2021. Psychological and educational interventions for managing eczema. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2021 (11).
  • Singleton, H., James, J., Penfold, S., Falconer, L., Priego-Hernandez, J., Holley, D. and Burden, D., 2021. Deteriorating Patient Training Using Nonimmersive Virtual Reality: A Descriptive Qualitative Study. Computers, informatics, nursing : CIN, 39 (11), 675-681.
  • McDonald, H. and Rushforth, H., 2006. Children's views of nursing and medical roles: implications for advanced nursing practice. Paediatr Nurs, 18 (5), 32-36.
  • Rushforth, H., Burge, D., Mullee, M., Jones, S., McDonald, H. and Glasper, E.A., 2006. Nurse-led paediatric pre operative assessment: an equivalence study. Paediatr Nurs, 18 (3), 23-29.
  • Rushforth, H. and McDonald, H., 2004. Decisions by nurses in acute care to undertake expanded practice roles. British Journal of Nursing, 13 (8), 482-490.


  • James, J., Singleton, H., Penfold, S. and Holley, D., 2020. Virtual reality can improve nursing students' knowledge of hypoglycaemia: Do students prefer immersive virtual reality to non-immersive virtual reality? DIABETIC MEDICINE, 37, 107.
  • Singleton, H., James, J., Penfold, S. and Priego-Hernandez, J., 2019. Assessing student nurses' knowledge of hypoglycaemia- the first step to improvement. In: Diabetes UK 5-8 March 2019 Birmingham.

Internet Publications


  • Singleton, H., 2020. Virtual technologies in nurse education: the pairing of critical realism with partial least squares structural equation modelling as an evaluation methodology. PhD Thesis. Bournemouth University, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.



  • Singleton, H., Holley, D., Arden-Close, E., Yang, X., Ersser, S. and Cui, Y., 2022. Developing and evaluating a novel interactive virtual reality intervention for children with eczema.. Sigma Phi-Mu Chapter. Published online.

Profile of Teaching PG

  • Heidi is the CYP link teacher for the Return to Nursing Practice Course

Profile of Teaching UG

  • Heidi teaches and leads a range of level 4 to level 6 UG CYP units.

External Responsibilities

Internal Responsibilities

  • Student Representative Link for CYP, Student Representatives
  • CYP Admissions Lead, Admissions
  • Student Nurse Fitness to Practice Advisory Group Member, Fitness to Practice Advisory Group

Journal Reviewing/Refereeing

  • Journal of Clinical Nursing, Anonymous peer review, 06 Oct 2020
  • British Journal of Educational Technology, Anonymous peer review, 03 Sep 2018

Conference Presentations

  • ASPIH Virtual Conference, 360 Simulation: Assessing baby Robin, 08 Nov 2021, Online
  • Café Scientifique, Singleton, H. Holley, D. Falconer, E. . A ‘wicked challenge’: supporting our students’ learning with new technologies, 01 Jan 2019, Bournemouth
  • Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2019, H Singleton, Dr J James, S Penfold and Dr J Priego-Hernandez . Assessing student nurses’ knowledge of hypoglycaemia- the first step to improvement., 01 Jan 2019, Liverpool
  • UCISA Conference, Singleton, H. Falconer, E. Holley , D. Engage and Educate with Virtual Reality: sharing our experiences of VR Deteriorating Patient, 05 Dec 2018, Birmingham
  • BU PGR Conference 2018, Singleton, H. Evaluation of the effectiveness of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies for learning, in higher education: a systematic review of the literature, 02 Dec 2018, BU
  • OER18 Bristol, Falconer,  L. King, D.  Singleton, H. Holley, D. Virtual Reality: the implications for open educational resources, 18 Apr 2018, Bristol


  • PhD in Virtual technologies in nurse education: the pairi (Bournemouth University, 2020)
  • HEA Associate Fellow in Teaching (HEA, 2018)
  • MA in Education (2015)
  • PGCE in Education (2003)
  • BSc (Hons) in Children's Nursing (2001)
  • RNC in Children's Nursing (RCN, 2001)


  • Senior Fellow of HEA (HEA, 2021)
  • Travel Bursary (Dermatology) Distinction (The NIHR and the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), 2021)


  • British Dermatology Nursing Group, Member (2021-),
  • Cochrane, Member (2021-2024),
  • CYP Nurse Academics UK, Member (2020-),
  • NMC, Member (2020-),
  • RCN, Member (2020-),
  • Sigma Nursing Phi Mu Chapter, Member (2020-),
  • Nursing for Long Term Health Research Centre, Member (2019-),

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