Leading ‘Pocket Ideas – A moment in time’ has been a bit of a roller coaster!

By Andrea Boyd (@AndreaBoydAHPMH)

Occupational Therapist and Project Lead

NHS Ayrshire and Arran Pocket Ideas Book Launch
Image by Guy Hinks. Andrea Boyd.. See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA.

Looking back over the past 18 months sometimes it has felt like a slow climb to achieve a planned goal, and then sometimes everything moves so fast without a chance to put on the brakes and catch your breath!

Now that I have the opportunity to sit back and think, it really is a time to gather my thoughts and reflect on what I have learned on this incredible roller coaster. I say incredible because it has been! From the support gained from a wide range of staff to the experiences I have gained as project lead.

My project lead post started in the middle of September 2014, and that particular week I also excitedly and nervously began my MSc in Later Life studies at UWS. Add to that, our Activity Team won ‘Best Acute Care Initiative’ at the Scottish Dementia Awards. As a team we had a lot to celebrate, but even with a positive stamp of approval there was still a lot of work to be done.

In the early days of the project journey a ‘Project Charter’ was developed to consider the plans for the forthcoming months, and to keep in line with expectations outlined in our endowment bid. The roller coaster had started and I had jumped on with enthusiasm, passion and determination!

At this stage the project was still a prototype and there was ongoing evaluation using PDSA principles which assisted with design and development of the project. Five pilot sites were chosen across Ayrshire to incorporate 3 acute wards and assessment wards for older people with organic illness e.g. dementia. All wards embraced the project idea. Time was spent on the wards to introduce the prototype to staff, encourage them to use it, and to support the evaluation process. Having learned from our initial pilot in Pavilion 3, a more robust evaluation tool was developed with the support of Clinical Effectiveness and Scottish Health Innovations

Useful feedback was received from the pilot sites and included;

“Easy to implement simple ideas to engage clients.”

“Word games got a lot of patients talking about their life history.”

“Great way to stimulate memory.”

“‘Pocket Ideas’ provided lots of simple, easy to remember conversation starters that are helpful when speaking to patients with dementia.” and

“Great for the patients instead of them watching T.V all day.”

Final CoverDuring the pilot the Activity Team worked closely with the Communications Department and particularly Emma Lehane-Allan our graphic designer who persevered with the many drafts of the project as it began to take shape. She really did a marvellous job!! Every draft was viewed by our Activity Team, and the many staff that supported the project as it evolved.

As a team we wanted to ensure the project could be spread and sustained, so it was agreed that Champions would be recruited. Our team set ourselves a mission to recruit Champions wherever we went, and to date we have Champions in North, East and South Ayrshire, and across Scotland too!! Staff have really embraced the project due to its simplicity and as a result meaningful conversations are happening with our older people! Many thanks to all our Champions!!

Image by Guy Hinks. Ayrshire Achieves Awards 2015 at Ayr Hospital.

After so many project drafts (I think we all lost count), we reached the final pilot stage. A focussed period to look at the final product before heading to the professional printers. This was a very exciting stage, we had finally climbed that steep hill of achievement, and it was incredible to have the final draft in our hands! The feedback was extremely positive, and then it was all systems go to the printers. Our Activity Team were then fortunate enough to attend Ayrshire Achieves 2015, where we gained another award; ‘Light bulb moments-creativity and innovation’. Another fabulous achievement for the team!

NHS Ayrshire and Arran Pocket Ideas Book Launch
Image by Guy Hinks. See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA.

While the books were being printed, it was full speed ahead to the launch, so no time to put the brakes on that roller coaster! The launch took place at the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock on 4th September 2015 and was attended by 200 delegates from Ayrshire and across Scotland. The day was filled with inspirational speakers, stall holders and experiential workshops. At the end of the day Centre Stage having led one of the workshops finished the day with singing, dancing and the finale of ‘ Auld Lang Syne’. It was an amazing day and each delegate took away their own copy of Pocket Ideas and additional copies for those who signed up as Champions. We still need Champions to support and sustain the project, so if you haven’t become a Champion already, please get in touch to find out more and come along to a Champions Network Forum.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran Pocket Ideas Book Launch
Image by Guy Hinks. Speakers with Andrea Boyd in middle. See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA.

Post launch the focus has been on the impact of Pocket Ideas. Evaluation questionnaires have revealed the following themes; person centred, communication, engagement in meaningful activities, increased confidence and getting to know patients, distraction from distressed behaviour, good size and useful resource, reduction of boredom, supports therapeutic relationships, sharing good practice, reduction of isolation and improvement in assessment.

Champions have been encouraged to consider real time questions to support the evaluation as well as sharing any case studies. Filming has been used to score interventions with and without the use of Pocket Ideas. The results have supported the theory that Pocket Ideas encourages person centred care through meaningful engagement.

Overall the impact in Ayrshire and across Scotland has been amazing. More people know about the project and would like to access it, and my request list continues to grow! The pdf will soon be available on our activity website www.nhsaaa.net/activelyengaged and a route for organisations to purchase their own hard copies is being considered. Our next books ordered are for Ayrshire and Arran so watch this space!

So along the rollercoaster journey what have I learned? Most of all I have learned the importance of believing in yourself, as if you can do that, you can do anything! My role has been about leadership supported by my fabulous Activity Team, and so many other staff members.  It has taught me that leadership is about having a clear vision, a goal to achieve with the passion to do it, and that with this you need to nurture, support and encourage the team supporting you to achieve your goal.

So what next? I have returned to my clinical role with a continued and passionate interest in meaningful activity. I will continue to raise the awareness of Pocket Ideas and hopefully help to embed the project as part of our everyday practice!

A final thought, as most people who know me also know that I love inspirational quotes, so here it is;

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” Bernard Edmonds

Many thanks to everyone who has supported Pocket Ideas.

Note from AHPScot blog: If you would like to read more about ‘Pocket Ideas’ you can read Andrea’s earlier blog “From small seed great ideas grow… ‘Pocket Ideas’ the story so far!” by clicking here.


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