Digital working: Exploring opportunities, expanding horizons and transforming practice

As a cohort 3 “graduate “ of the NES dNMAHP leadership programme, I have gradually increased my: TEC knowledge; exposure to digital working; and confidence in using it. At the end of November, I reflected on just how far my e-health journey has come and I wondered if it might help others to share some of the ups and downs of challenging myself to do more; and encourage readers with some insights and learning. Perhaps this will encourage you to try some things yourself and to know that you don’t have to be perfect.

Many readers will already know that I am a regular “tweeter” and that I enjoy the opportunities to learn and share with a wide variety of people, groups and topics; especially those related to social care, nutrition and dietetics. My initial foray into this twilight world was not a comfortable one for me, never mind my then 16 year old twin daughters, who helped me get started! Now of course, I can’t imagine my working life without it. November was no different and I continued to learn and share during the month. I was asked to be the AHPScot social media lead for NHS Highland earlier in 2019 and I started the month by encouraging one of our radiographers to write an article about the innovative work her team is leading for sharing via AHPScot blog. I’m delighted to say that by the end of the month, she had taken the plunge, knowing that she would get help to post it online: we can look forward to reading all about the work at Raigmore hospital in the near future.

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NHS Highland has good access to equipment for remote working and I was able to participate in several VC meetings during the month, reducing costs and the need for travel to the central belt, which would otherwise involve an overnight stay, 8 hours of driving and the meeting time!

Car parking, or lack of it, means that staff are encouraged to work from home if they don’t need to be in the office. This saved me an 80-mile round trip to work 3 times in the month and allowed me to work in peace from the comfort of my sofa, catching up with phone calls, preparing teaching sessions, writing reports and whatever else I needed to electronically.

Midway through November, I was interviewed remotely by Lesley Holdsworth, Mark Flemming and Francis Santos, using a Zoom meeting for an exciting new role as a member of the dNMAHP leadership group. I was delighted to find out a few days later that I had been successful. This was lovely news particularly given there had been so much interest in the new roles. My daughters were equally proud and shocked to hear that their mother had progressed from a position where I didn’t have a twitter account to being considered a leader in digital working in just 4 years!

Week 3 and I met with the NES RRHEAL (remote and rural health education and learning) team to explore how they might be able to support me to work a bit more digitally with social care staff across our challenging geography. I was also keen to understand how I might be able to use the TURAS platform to develop my role and engage staff more widely. We’re all trying to reach health and social care staff, so it makes sense to work more closely together doesn’t it? Apparently they thought the same and within 48 hours I received an email asking me if I’d deliver some training for  a VC education network for North of Scotland next Spring!

By the last week in the month, I delivered a remote ECHO teaching/discussion session to 30 care at home workers from the comfort of a meeting room in Inverness. Staff were sat in their own homes or in offices in locations as diverse as Ullapool, Lochaber, Ross and Cromarty; saving them travelling time, the cost of petrol and the hassle of driving/parking in the city. It was well facilitated and ran smoothly over an hour and a half, allowing us to share and discuss anonymised challenges in supporting and enabling vulnerable people to eat well and stay well in their own homes.

A couple of days later and I faced a whole other challenge, which wasn’t so much dipping my toe in the water as tombstoning off a cliff! I had agreed several months ago to deliver a webinar on the topic of good nutrition and dementia, facilitated by NES and the AlzScot AHP dementia team. I had planned and practiced for several weeks and prepared on the day with all the relevant e-codes, phone numbers and printed slides. The 1 hour session had the largest ever number of participants, which added a bit to the adrenaline coursing round my body, as I felt the expectation of 140 people rising at the other end. When the time came to log into the session, technology failed to let me join as the Chair for the webinar and we had to come up with a compromise, where someone else would move my slides on remotely. The session started on time and was going to plan until several slides in, my screen went completely blank and my laptop refused to let me log in again… Fortunately my printed slides were at hand and I delivered the session over the phone, hoping that people were following the slides on the screen.  I have since been contacted by a number of participants on email and twitter to say how much they had enjoyed hearing about the work of social care staff across Highland and to ask for further information. Another of life’s digital lessons and hopefully it will encourage others to take the plunge and work smarter using digital rather than conventional technology. Your “reach” is greater and the opportunity for learning development and sharing has so much more potential too.

As we go forward in 2020 I am excited at the possibilities digital provides for strategically transforming workforce and clinical planning in both Highland and across other NMAHP teams – I hope you’ll join me in the transformation and watch this space for updates!

Evelyn.jpgContact details

Tel: 07870 868475

Twitter: @evelynnewman17

E-mail: Evelyn.Newman@nhs.net

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