Heidi Singleton

Dr Heidi Singleton

  • Senior Lecturer in Children and Young Peoples Nursing
  • BGB
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Heidi's main research areas are:

1. Children and Young People's Nursing fundamentals (e.g. pain, nutrition, child/family centred care, neurodiversity)

2. Exploring how technology can be used for nurse education,

3. How technology can be used both therapeutically, and for service improvement in the areas of dermatology (including the psychological impact of eczema and nurse led skin cancer clinic service innovation), and mental health (improving early intervention service innovation).

Heidi's route through academia has led her to Children’s and Young People’s Nursing, a research field that she feels passionate about. 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, she completed her PhD at BU...



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's doctoral thesis was entitled 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)...


Eczema Igloo (A BU Heif funded project): 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)...



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person's work contributes towards the following SDGs:

Good health and well-being

"Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages"

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Quality education

"Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"

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Peace, justice and strong institutions

"Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels"

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Partnership for the Goals

"Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development"

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Journal Articles



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.



PhD Students

  • Alex Hull. Staff experiences of looking after the critically ill child in intensive care, (In progress)
  • Andy Sweetmore. Early Intervention service improvement for Children and Young People's mental health
  • Leila Kattach. Service improvement for nurse led skin cancer clinics
  • Scott Ewan. Compassion: an action framework for implementation in nursing health care settings

Profile of Teaching PG

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

Profile of Teaching UG

  • Heidi teaches a range of level 4 to level 6 UG units for the Department of Nursing and more widely across the FHSS Faculty.

Invited Lectures

  • Eczema Research, Virtual, 01 Apr 2023 more
  • 360 video for mental health nurse education, Wessex, 01 Jan 2023 more
  • PhD survival tips and how to prepare for Viva., BU, 01 Jan 2022 more


  • CO-I: Unleashing the Magical Power of Play: Harnessing Therapeutic Communication with Children and Young People in Hospitals (Economic and Social Research Council, 01 Jan 2023). Completed
  • PI-Efficacy of technology-supported approaches within nurse-led skin cancer clinics for patients requiring rapid diagnosis and follow-up support: development and exploration of a resource efficient novel model (UHD Match Funded, 18 Sep 2022). In Progress
  • PI-Developing a toolkit of early interventions for young people with mental health difficulties (Dorset HealthCare NHS Trust, 18 Sep 2022). In Progress
  • PI-Eczema Igloo (HEIF Funding, 10 Apr 2022). Completed
  • CO-I- Medical monsters: Using gamification and play to reduce anxiety related to patient medical appointments and hospital admissions. (Economic and Social Research Council, 01 Jan 2022). Completed
  • PI-VR Chillout: Immersive virtual reality to distract from itch for children with moderate to severe eczema (Pump Primping, 01 Jan 2022). Completed
  • PI- VR for therapeutics (HEIF, 01 Jan 2021). Completed
  • Digital Human Coaches: merging algorithms and personality traits to scale organisational performance. (Heif, 01 Jan 2021). Completed

External Responsibilities

  • Sigma Phi Mu, Chair of Leadership and Sucession Commitee (2023-)
  • Sigma Phi Mu, Research committee member (2021-)

Internal Responsibilities

  • Panel Member, Academic Quality
  • Programme Lead, CYP Nursing
  • Member, Public Engagement in Research Network
  • Member and Conference 2024 organiser for exhibition, SIGMA BU
  • Student Representative Link for CYP, Student Representatives

Journal Reviewing/Refereeing

  • British Journal of Dermatology, Anonymous peer review, 01 Jan 2024
  • Journal of Clinical Nursing, Anonymous peer review, 06 Oct 2020
  • British Journal of Educational Technology, Anonymous peer review, 03 Sep 2018

Public Engagement & Outreach Activities

  • BU Festival of Learning (01 Jan 2018)
  • ESRC Festival of Social Science

Conference Presentations

  • 7th European Region Sigma Conference 2024, Educational and Psychological interventions for managing Eczema, 01 Jun 2024, Bournemouth
  • 7th European Region Sigma Conference 2024, Magical Play for Therapeutic Communication and Compassionate Pedagogy, 01 Jun 2024, Bournemouth
  • Annual Cochrane Skin Meeting, Educational and Psychological interventions for managing eczema in children and adults, 01 Apr 2024, Paris
  • Sigma International Nursing Congress, Eczema Research for Children and Young People, 01 Jan 2023, Abu Dhabu
  • EADV International, Eczema Igloo for Distraction of children with Eczema, 01 Jan 2023, Berlin
  • Pier Wessex 2023, Barriers to treatment adherence for children with eczema, 01 Jan 2023, Winchester
  • 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

Attended Training

  • BU Research Councils Development Scheme, 01 Jan 2024
  • Aurora Programme 2023/24, 01 Jan 2023
  • BU-Certificate in Programme Leadership, 07 Oct 2022, Certificate in Programme Leadership
  • BEEs- Best evidence for dermatology-Nottingham, 14 Mar 2022, Statistics module
  • PhD Supervisor Training, 01 Jan 2021


  • PhD in Virtual technologies in nurse education: the pairi (Bournemouth University, 2020)
  • Return to Nursing Practice (Nursing) in Children's Nursing (NMC, 2019)
  • MA in Education (2015)
  • PGCE in Education (2003)
  • Qualified Teacher Status in Teaching (Department for Education, 2003)
  • BSc (Hons) in Children's Nursing (2001)
  • RNC in Children's Nursing (RCN, 2001)


  • Emerging Research Award 2023 (Sigma Nursing, 2023)
  • Travel Award to attend Dermatology & Venereology at the EADV Congress in Berlin (British Dermatology Nursing Group, 2023)
  • PhD Studentship (Bournemouth University, 2022)
  • Travel Bursary (NIHR/BAD, 2022)
  • Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Education during Covid-19 pandemic. Nursing (SIGMA Nursing, 2021)
  • Senior Fellow of HEA (HEA, 2021)
  • Vice Chancellor Scholarship for PhD Studies (BU, 2017)
  • Morgan Prize-Highest clinical and academic results (University of Surrey, 2001)
  • Pergamon Prize-Best academic research project (A study into the presence of microorganisms in neonatal incubators). (University of Surrey, 2001)


  • British Dermatology Nursing Group, Member (2021-),
  • Cochrane, Member (2021-2024),
  • CYP Nurse Academics UK, Member (2020-),
  • RCN, Member (2020-1997),
  • Sigma Nursing Phi Mu Chapter, Member (2020-),
  • Nursing for Long Term Health Research Centre, Member (2019-),
  • NMC, Member (2002-),
  • English National Board for Nursing, Member (1997-2002),
  • UK Dermatology clinical Trials Network: Nottingham, Member,

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