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Breakthrough Patient Care Through Attentive Learning and Skilling

How Custom Learning Solutions and Interactivity Helped Forge New Paths in Caring for Patients with Disabilities


Established in 2018 with support from B. Thomas Golisano and the Golisano Foundation, the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing at St. John Fisher University was created to support health equity for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through the promotion of person and family-centered care. It’s the first institute of its kind in the United States that integrates a specialized IDD curriculum into nursing undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. 

The Institute’s mission is to generate an international cadre of healthcare professionals prepared with the knowledge, professional skills, and competencies to effectively support individuals with IDD through professional and academic education and experiential learning.


The Institute wanted to optimize health care for hospitalized adult patients with IDD. It believes in achieving this with a thorough educational plan and upskilling of nursing staff. The current learning program that consisted of video-based training was one-sided. It did little to stir curiosity and delve deeper into the condition for the nursing staff to provide better patient care. The Institute wanted the learning to be comprehensive, experiential, and immersive. Further, the learning curriculum needed to be:

  • Delivered in a format that could reach a large, dispersed audience in an asynchronous format that was easy to use and distribute;
  • Interactive with knowledge checks and reflection questions, and under 45 minutes;
  • Accessible for learners with disabilities;
  • Feature compelling content that would increase knowledge, skills, and confidence of acute care nurses when working with patients with IDD;
  • Able to increase learner ratings against comparable CE programs.

Strategy & Solution

Team ELB reviewed the existing training material for content readiness and learning effectiveness. We proposed a curriculum to address critical and potentially lethal conditions of patients with IDD: aspiration, seizures, sepsis, dehydration, bowel obstruction, and GERD. Further,

  • The learning content was refined and enhanced with the help of subject matter experts to ensure appropriate skilling and use of accurate language and terminologies.
  • The entire learning curriculum had six overarching topics—each with in-depth knowledge about the condition, including symptoms and severity.
  • A scenario-based learning strategy was deployed to effectively present the learner with a character or patient exhibiting the critical condition.
  • Learners are immersed in the situation and delve deep into understanding the symptoms, causes, treatment possibilities, and outcomes.
  • Learners are encouraged to make decisions on how they would proceed to treat the patient effectively and safely.
  • Level 1 custom interactivity ensures that learners engage with the learning material to make progress.

This module was built using Storyline and is about 40 minutes in duration. It contains video-based learning interwoven with knowledge checks and feedback to maintain attention and reinforce key points. The module ended with an assessment to check understanding.

The development also included:

  • A mobile learning experience to enhance accessibility, and alt tags packaged as a SCORM object and/or xAPI.
  • A framework of key steps—including symptoms, assessment, complications, signs of deterioration, treatment, and SBAR handoff—represented visually and consistently across the overarching themes, creating a memorable mental model that enhances knowledge retention and transfer. 
  • A 90-180 day follow-up survey to assess behavior change on the job.
  • A custom look and feel of the learning curriculum, complete with branding and white labeling.


  • A 360° skilling program for professional nurses and nursing students across hospitals and institutions.
  • The learning program provided a deep understanding of the topic and encouraged the application of learning through the scenario-based learning strategy.
  • It provided a safe space to practice learning and be a well-rounded caregiver.
  • The course offered continuing education credits for nurses.
  • The Institute has signed up with ELB Learning to deliver six more courses—a series of courses to educate learners on IDD; more case studies, more scenarios, and more analysis.

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