On the 28th of April 2016 forty allied health professionals (AHPs) from heath and social services across Scotland came together in Edinburgh to learn about, and promote their role in cancer rehabilitation. The event was organised by Debbie Provan, National AHP Lead for Cancer Rehabilitation with support from Macmillan Cancer Support.
A varied programme showcasing projects led by various AHPs was presented to a diverse audience. Delegates were a combination of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, radiographers, and nurses and they came from healthboards, council services, the Scottish Government, Macmillan Cancer Support and regional cancer networks. The majority of delegates described themselves as specialist cancer practitioners, whilst others described themselves as generalists with an interest in cancer, or a service lead/manager. Their main reason for attendance was to network with others working in cancer rehabilitation closely followed by
- to learn more about cancer policy/strategy,
- to develop a greater knowledge of cancer rehabilitation, and
- to learn about sources of support which could aid service development.
Everyone who returned their evaluation (75%) reported that the event met their expectations, and 100% of delegates rated the event as excellent (90%) or good (10%). The most inspiring aspect of the feedback obtained was that more than 93% of respondents reported that they were going to change an aspect of their practice, or take information back to their team as a result of the event.
Will you change anything about your practice, or take anything back to your team following today’s event?
“Be more radical and look into introducing changes. Encourage colleagues to put their thoughts into action and influence change”
“Try to demonstrate impact of our project on other services”
“More positive outlook towards service development. Greater contacts with peers in specialist services”
“Be more creative and link to national strategies more”
“Review in-patient services and get on social networking”
“PDSA – Make it more formal”
In addition, more than 70% reported that they were either a current member of the “Cancer Rehabilitation: AHP Services and Best Practice” community of practice or they intended to join. This is incredibly encouraging as it enhances our ability to develop services together as an AHP group, and promotes best practice across Scotland.
Whilst a number of projects and services were showcased during the event, delegates were also asked to consider what they needed to improve local practices, and what they could offer others to help move cancer rehabilitation forward collectively. As you can see from the above delegates were very enthusiastic and rose to the challenge. Numerous offers of support were received including:
“I can support people who want to integrate other morbidities into rehab”
“Developing assistant practitioner roles; happy for emails and to meet to discuss role”
“Advice re. training and supporting band 4 OTs”
“Practical resources re OT in palliative care – breathlessness management, fatigue, experience in TCAT Project.”
Moving forward Debbie will link the offers to the requirements, and if helpful she will initiate discussions via the community of practice so that more people can benefit from this.
During the closing presentation the audience was reminded of a few key points discussed during the day, namely:
- It takes time to improve and to make change happen but if we start small and learn as we go it can happen.
- Use your connections to pull together bids and applications and be prepared with evidence and rationale.
- Sometimes big changes come from an informal conversation.
- Think out-with your own service when considering impact. Not only when gathering data and presenting results but when designing interventions as sometimes by changing another service you can have the biggest impact on your own and vice versa.
- Improvement advisors are currently being sought to help deliver the forthcoming Active and Independent Living Improvement Programme. These advisors may help you develop your services and show your impact.
To help get these key messages and other points from the day out to colleagues not in attendance and raise the profile of AHPs and their role in rehab with the general public, twitter was used. In November 2014 Debbie put a call to action out via this blog and she introduced the hashtag #AHPCancerRehab. This hashtag was used once again and over the 24hours following the event the twitter hashtag helped the group reach more than 15,000 accounts and made more than 58,500 impressions. To review the tweets sent out on the day take a look at the storify.
You can also view the presentations from the day via the “Past Events and Conference Presentations” section of the “CPD Opportunities” tab on the community of practice. And if you too have something you can offer colleagues to help take rehab forward, or you have examples of good practice which you wish to share, please join the community and upload your resources. You can also e-mail Debbie.firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her via twitter @DebbieProvanRD using the #AHPCancerRehab hashtag or you can comment below. You could even write your own blog!
In summary, the main aim of the event was to build our networks and increase sharing and showcasing; so please do make the most of the opportunities noted above and please share this blog, the community of practice, and the storify with as many colleagues as possible. Together we will improve and sustain cancer rehabilitation in Scotland.