Since 2013 Debbie Provan and Fraser Ferguson have led AHPScot on a voluntary basis. Over that time the health and care landscape has changed, and Debbie and Fraser have both taken on numerous new roles whilst continuing to develop AHPScot. However, after more than 8 years, both have made the decision to step down from AHPScot and to support new and emerging leaders to take on the role and lead the resource into the future.
If you’re interested in finding out more about AHPScot or considering the role for yourself, read on.
The idea for AHPScot emerged from project Gandhi in 2012 (a project undertaken by Lesley Holdsworth, Lynne Douglas, Elaine Hunter and Carolyn MacDonald in which they each wrote a blog and posted a tweet), and in 2013 AHPScot was born with Fraser and I at the helm. Since then, we have continued to facilitate the posting of blogs by AHPs working across Scotland, and utilised twitter for added reach.
When AHPScot began, I was working across two roles – one was as a Macmillan Project Lead Dietitian in NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the other was as the National AHP Lead for Cancer Rehabilitation. I had been using twitter professionally for almost 2 years by that point and I spent part of my week developing an elearning programme, creating virtual classrooms and podcasts (both incredibly novel at the time, especially in health!); so, whilst I’d never run a blog before, the prospect wasn’t daunting, especially with the support of Fraser and Lesley.
Over the years my role has changed. I’ve led a number of projects in Ayrshire and Arran (some Dietetic/AHP and some in cancer services); moved to a Regional Cancer Network to work as a Regional Clinical Lead, and then this year I moved to the Scottish Government to work as a Clinical Advisor. Running AHPScot is not particularly time consuming, however it does require some time, particularly when supporting new bloggers and supporting national engagement activities such as #AHPsDay, #DietitiansWeek, #OTWeek, #DementiaAwarenessWeek etc. As I’ve changed roles and moved away from AHP services, it has become increasingly difficult to develop AHPScot to its full potential. That said, I genuinely believe AHPScot has been a great facilitator in terms of my career. When working as the National AHP Lead for Cancer Rehabilitation, I regularly used the blog to share the work of my colleagues, showcasing good practice, learning from others, and building a network (take a look at #AHPCancerRehab). Posting blogs each week also meant that I regularly read about various roles, projects, and improvements AHPs had been involved in or led on, keeping me up to date with practice and providing a window into the working lives of colleagues. AHPScot was also instrumental in my decision to join the #dNMAHP Leadership Network in March 2018, in becoming its Chairperson in November 2019, and therefore, in my decision to apply for and successfully complete the NHS Digital Academy in 2020 (resulting in a PgDip Digital Health Leadership).
If you’re an enthusiastic AHP, AHP support worker or AHP student who’s keen to lead and develop AHPScot; if you’re keen to build your network and to work alongside other AHPs and the dNMAHP network then I really would encourage you to get in touch; it would be great to see where it takes you!
As Debbie said, AHPScot (or AHPScotBlog as it was known as initially) was born out of Project Gandhi… but clinically its roots sat alongside the development of the National Musculoskeletal Advice & Triage Service (MATS) which was breaking new ground, using telehealth to deliver triage and care for citizens with muscle, back or joint pain. There were plans to use this new-fangled social media thing to support patient care. It quickly became evident that this was not sustainable or governable at that time in the SoMe worldwide journey. Common feedback at the beginning was “this is a nice idea but will this social media thing last?”
Always keen to fight the fight AHPScot became a digital entity in November 2012. (It also took me until March 2013 to understand what the word SoMe meant!) Like many new SoMe exploits the first few months were taken up liking and lurking, as we found our feet. The first tweet from @AHPScot was made on April 8th.
6108 tweets, numerous likes and many retweets later it has become a staple of AHP social media activity in Scotland and further afield. And, at 10:27 on April 4th 2013, its sister SoMe platform AHPScot’s WordPress site was launched.
The first blog form @LesleyAHPD: New ‹ AHPs across health and social care. — WordPress.com
This quickly became a go to resource for sharing AHP innovation and practice. During the initial phase of the Covid pandemic in 2020, AHPScot blog reached new heights in terms of viewing figures as AHPs hunted down advice and support that would look after themselves and re-establish AHP services.
With a worldwide audience any blog can be read not just by your department colleagues or health & social care partnership but by people much wider afield.
The hidden gem of the AHPScot SoMe platform in my opinion is Scot AHPS – YouTube
Currently this has an evidence-based, expert endorsed group of resources around many common AHP services and conditions helped by our wider AHP teams.
All of these resources are owned by AHPScot and most of these were professionally filmed and offer viable alternatives to some other web sites which are text heavy and overly corporate.
All of this growth is due AHPScot followers who have tagged it, referenced it and championed it. This is a voluntary role, with no central funding for publicity, promotional or analytics packages. This is what makes @AHPScot SoMe such an exciting opportunity to lead – it gives AHPs in Scotland an opportunity of a, fair, consistent and loud digital voice to share, widely, the work they are doing and the impact they are making.
Even assuming that all of @AHPScot’s 4,776 followers are Scottish AHPs (they are most definitely not) that would be ~36% of all the AHPs in Scotland following it. Social Media adoption in Scotland is ~75% of the population so there is a long way to go to increase SoMe influence and expand mediums to maximise this.
This is an unique opportunity for a group of keen and persistent AHPs of all grades to take all of this work forward as I’ve an inkling SoMe ain’t going anywhere, so better AHPs in Scotland continue to be leaders and followers.
What else have we done? Despite AHPScot going from strength to strength over the year, in 2018 Debbie and Fraser recognised that more could be done to maximise its potential, thereby increasing the visibility of AHP work and encouraging engagement to foster and develop innovations and improve impact.
That led to:
- The creation of the AHPScot Champion role (which 9 individuals have taken on: Caoimhe McCann, Clare Prentice, Connie Murray, Evelyn Newman, Gail Brown, Gail Nash, Laura Lennox, Rhona Burch, and Susan Bannatyne)
- A formal partnership with the AHP Careers Fellowships (programme providing an outlet for Fellows to showcase their work), and
- The #3000by2020 initiative on twitter
The results were instantaneous. Not only did the AHPScot Champions share the workload, reach and engagement with the blog and Social Media itself increased, and more AHPs took on the Social Media Challenge, creating professional profiles and becoming active contributors. In less than a year (April 2019 – Jan 2020) AHPScot had seen a 50% growth in followers, more than 300 of whom followed during the two-week #3000by2020 campaign. Views and visitors in 2019 also increased by 10% and 7% respectively, compared with 2018; and as we’ve stated above, in 2020 when Scotland was first gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic and people were looking for guidance, information, and support to work in new ways, AHPScot really came in to its own. Blogging was less frequent but nevertheless, views rose by 47% and visitors by 79%.
In Summary: So much has been achieved with AHPScot to date, but opportunities remain. If you would like to develop your social media skills and have the enthusiasm to take AHPScot forward, developing it’s reach and impact do get in touch with us here: https://forms.office.com/r/ZQRMubrmSu
And finally a huge thank you from Debbie and Fraser to all who’ve blogged, interacted and supported AHPScot over the years.