Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘NHS

Blogging and Social Networking in the NHS – Change Needed

with 5 comments

OTNews have a brief and dispiriting article this month on page 10, entitled Blogging and social networking.  I am grateful that this article was brought to my attention as I prepare for a very popular workshop on Social Media Usage at next week’s COTSS Independent Practice conference next week.  I think we can have some fun with this…

The article runs off a litany of reasons why blogging and social networking is bad.  To summarise they are

  • breaches of confidentiality
  • information leaks
  • defamation
  • damage to organisational reputation
  • information to be used for social engineering and identity theft
  • viruses and other malware
  • bandwidth consumption resulting in degrading services and wasting time for other users
  • intimidation of NHS staff leading to investigations.

The article goes on to state that you can download the full checklist (what, there’s more?!) here.

I am not sure what the motive behind the article was, not least because the College is actually quite active in this field itself.  It just pops up in the news pages, even though the guidelines referred to date back to December 2009.

The disappointment in it is that it reads in the most reactionary terms.  It comes across as being anti-progress by only listing the woebetides and the why nots.

Where is the debate about how we can manage risk and progress?  Where is the discussion on the opportunities that become available?

For all your threats above I give you my own list.

Watch out for social media and blogging.  It can result in:-

  • collaboration
  • innovation
  • education
  • integration
  • creativity
  • community
  • encouragement
  • support
  • development
  • efficiencies
  • knowledge management
  • best practice…
Advertisements

Written by harrisontraining

October 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Challenge What I Think

leave a comment »

Changing What We Think

I thought was going to write about the NHS Confedration’s consultation paper, and looking in particular at the consortia that service purchasers, previously known as GPs, will be obliged to join.  I might get onto that later.

Instead I got distracted by a curious search that has come up on the blog stats.  It read;

“Challenge what I think”

Someone had searched for “Challenge what I think” and Google, in its infinite algorithmic wisdom sent them here.

That set in motion a chain of thought.  How readily do we open ourselves to being challenged in what we think?

The two topics are not entirely disconnected.  The angle I was contemplating on NHS reform was that it is easy to get stuck in resistance, anger and opposition.  We might rail against the system on the basis that it is

  • Wasteful
  • A broken promise
  • Unnecessary
  • Politically motivated
  • Unworkable
  • Meddling
  • Unwelcome change

or we can recognise that the march of this reform is inevitable.  Once we do that then the challenge is not to change the system or the political tide, but to look to ourselves and change how we are going to respond to it and engage with that change.

Note the word “Respond” as opposed to “React”

For those who are employed within the NHS, then we need to consider our roles within our teams.  How can we bring greater value, not just in pounds and pence, but in contribution?  What skills can we tap into to make our contributions more meaningful?

This has motivated the previous posts about self-effectiveness, or self leadership.  How can we position ourselves as being central to a team’s effectiveness, but not in a destructive way that undermines others, but constructively, helping to support and improve the whole.

For independent practitioners, how are you going to position yourselves in order to market your services to a larger number of smaller purchasers?  What do you need to do to demonstrate utility, effectiveness and ensure (to use the current buzzword) improved outcomes.

The current uncertainty needs us to remain adaptable.  It might mean getting to grips with social media – and the momentum that is now seen within social media and occupational therapy is very exciting.

It might mean, depending on how the consultation goes, that we need to be much more commercial in selling ourselves.

For some, let’s be realistic, it might mean looking for new roles altogether.

All of this needs us to be open to be challenged about the way we think.

We need to break the well worn patterns of X leads to Y and therefore Z applies. Experience shapes our responses so that if we find ourselves facing a situation we anticipate the outcome will the same as last time.  That can often drive how we respond.

And yet the outcome, to some extent, is shaped by our intervening response.  What if we choose, therefore, a different response?

What options have we got to select from?

What responses have we not tried previously and how might they serve us, and our service users and clients, better?

What new responses can we create for ourselves?

For more on this consider the issue of heuristics – there is a good summary on Wikipedia, right here.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Absenteeism?

with one comment

Upon reading through our Twitter account this morning, I spotted this comment from Alyson Fennemore

How Much Does Absenteeism Cost Organisations? What About The NHS?

Reading the summary  report from XpertHR reveals that the cost of absenteeism within the public sector is “significantly higher” than in the private sector.

That is perhaps no surprise.

Further reading around the issue suggests that represents about 6 days sick leave every year in the private sector, per employee.

An earlier article, from the same source, puts public sector absenteeism, in 2009, at a whopping 9.7 days per year.

That might be a surprise.  Many people will read that and think “I haven’t been sick in years.”  Others are less fortunate though and find their working life and aspirations beset with absence.

I have recently been presenting to several NHS teams for Harrison Training, both to OT and mixed discipline teams, and they are invariably affected with absenteeism.

I’ll write later about how absenteeism ties in with the current economic climate.

I would love to hear, in the comments below, how absenteeism impacts upon your teams and your own ability to carry out your work effectively.

And what is your answer to the problem?

Thanks to Alyson for providing the original link in her tweet.

Written by harrisontraining

July 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

Social Media in Clinics and Hospitals

with 3 comments

Our last blog looked at why should we bother with social media in occuaptional therapy.  We examined the benefits of re-telling, or passing on stories.

We also promised to turn our gaze to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic was the source of the YouTube video of a couple playing the piano together.  It is a wonderfully uplifting film clip, and just the tip of their media iceberg.

Here is their dedicated YouTube channel, their Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, and, inevitably their Facebook page, with more than 15,000 fans.

This is a remarkable effort, and one that has apparently been recognised through their nomination to receive a Webby Award, the Oscars of the internet world.

Why do they do it and what does it achieve?

Well, the introduction to their blog states this;

“A blog with stories from patients, families, friends and Mayo Clinic staff”.  Stories again.  The stories humanise what could be an intimidating organisation – both in its size and also its nature.

But staff blogging?  Many here believe that is a serious no-no within healthcare, but at the Mayo there is no such disapproval.  That is not to say that they do not care, far from it.  They have a strong social media policy in place though, you can read it here.  When organisations have policies and guidelines such as these then obstacles to communication can be managed.  Staff can be encouraged and developed in social media skills, and given the tools to get the organisation’s message out there, namely that they care, that they are human and relate to their clients as humans too.  That is powerful and much better than simply prohibiting staff from engaging with online communities that might come into contact with the clinic.

And look at that Facebook page.

One reason for prohibiting social media interaction is that someone might say something bad.  On the Facebook page, people do raise objections on cost, interference in sociol-political campaigns and even a veiled attack on competence, which is perhaps inevitable.  It is not an issue though, the Mayo Clinic has built up such a loyal following around it, that the less favourable comments do not stand out and you have to look pretty hard to find them.

Oh, and they even have their own Second Life area as pictured above.

What similar systems, where patients, clients, families and staff are encouraged to speak out have you seen in the organsations you work in?

I’m An OT. Let Me Out Of Here!

leave a comment »

Does the NHS internet firewall inhibit communication, innovation and effectiveness?

Here at Harrison we are very keen to see OTs and other health care professionals be all that they possibly can.

Our response to that, in part, is to work within social media and develop community.  It’s an attempt to share ideas and insights, encouragement and, as the tagline to this blog says, provocations for greater debate.  We believe firmly that increasing communication leads to development and progress.  As we increase our communication with one another, across our specialisms, and as we bring in ideas from other professions altogether, then we will find areas that we can learn from.

We also believe that for training to have real meaning and impact for you (and value for the people who are paying) that it is important to supplement our face to face delivery with associated online resources.  And that is where we suspect we are going to encounter problems.

Early feedback from people attending courses suggests that they very much wanted to see and use unique online communities to accommodate those people who are on a course.  People want to be able to see the material in advance, and to keep in touch with one another after the event.

The challenge that they have is getting through that great paternalistic guardian, the NHS firewall.

Industries in the private sector have all wrestled with this policy of internet access and use.  The restrictions and filters that appear within the NHS are restrictive and more onerous than many within other sectors.

To what extent does protectionism inhibit communication and innovation?  And to what extent is the NHS policy, ultimately, useless?  After all, many of us will increasingly have smartphones, such as the iPhone to communicate with the big world outside, as well as the big world inside the firewall.

So we came up with the idea of launching the “I’m An OT. Let Me Out Of Here!!” – a tongue in cheek campaign, to collect thoughts and stimulate debate.

Is the NHS firewall a hindrance and a frustration, or does it help you to feel safe and secure in the warm protective embrace of the digital overseer?

Would chaos ensue if there was open access?  Would everyone start Facebooking and Twittering instead of doing their work?

How would you govern online access and behaviour?

How would a more relaxed online regime benefit you, your practice, team and clients?

Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy

leave a comment »

Harrison Training rolled out their Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy course earlier this week.  This continues the development of Harrison’s interest in NHS and health care management skills training.

It became apparent that we all experience conflict within our work.  That is not surprising.  Conflict is in all that we do, whether professionally or socially.  We need to recognise where the potential for conflict lies and what our likely responses to it will be.

The mindmap shown above is one of the training resources that we used.  We highlighted nine types of conflict and then explored how they might arise within healthcare work, whether between colleagues, different levels of organisational hierarchy or with our clients.

We were able to explore typical responses and strategies to unblocking conflicts and also explore how our own actions often contribute to the conflict at hand.  The language we use, how we perceive ourselves within a conflict and who we speak to about it can all shape the destiny of any given situation.

The shift from blaming one another to an appreciation of how we might all be contributing to a problem is often a very powerful.  It makes the conflict safer to discuss and resolve.

By providing conflict awareness skills, team members can understand and anticipate possible conflict and where it might arise.  The result is that when it does emerge we are not taken by surprise and we have a range of lenses through which to perceive the problem.  That, coupled with practical strategies for resolution can help to cut the cost of conflict within our teams and organisations.

The course was very well received and prompted a great deal of discussion – the whole day felt like one massive conversation.

NHS Cuts, Budgets and That Thing Called Leadership

leave a comment »

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

With the imminent election, and even more imminent budget, the future funding of the NHS, and possible NHS spending cuts is a real hot topic.

In my previous post I highlighted the NHS Confederation’s report on Rising to the Challenge.

I have just been recapping their fascinating series on leadership from Spring 2009.

The fact that there are going to be massive cuts and the need for efficiency drives within the NHS is a given.  It is going to be unavoidable, as it will be in any other public sector.  What is not clear is how the system, and the individuals within it, will respond to those changes.

It is a time for leadership to come to the fore on a corporate and individual basis.

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

What is back to front leadership?

Back to front leadership is reactionary knee jerkism.  Back to front leadership only looks ahead at what is to come and reacts to it.

It is like reading the last page of a novel and guessing what might happen in the other 250 pages for yourself to fit with the conclusion you have just seen.

It is reactionary and often misguided.  The steps that are taken might match the predicted outcome (reduced costs) but may make no sense along the way.

Inside out leadership is different.

It still sees what the big picture is – there is no self deception or self comforting delusion here.  However it then works from the inside outwards to ensure that the necessary re-organisation fits the outcome and is consistent and coherent throughout the organisation.

This is much more challenging.  It requires the ability of managers and leaders (very different roles by the way) to be able to communicate, reassure, be honest and yet still move the team forward.  It takes courage to make those unattractive decisions.  There is no room here for procrastination or avoiding tough decisions and the subsequent conflict that will arise.

These leadership traits are not simply required in those we follow or look to for guidance and decision-making.  We can all develop leadership qualities ourselves and, as we do so, then we strengthen our own positions within our teams, employment but also within our personal lives and decision making.

Personal leadership also needs to be inside out, not back to front.

As we challenge ourselves to face up to several years of turmoil within the NHS , we have a choice.

We can read the writing on the wall and despair.  Maybe some will just give up, or others will keep a low profile hoping not to be noticed in any cutbacks.  That is the back to front approach.

The inside out approach to self leadership will be to look at ourselves.

What is it that we do really well?

Where can we improve?

What value and importance do we offer to our clients?

What value and importance do we derive for ourselves from what we do?

What is it that really fires us up?

Where do you want to be in say 3 to 5 years time, rather than where do you think the system will leave you in 5 years time?

These are all internal questions but they will have a profound impact and shape your external presentation.

If you are sure of why you do what you do, and if you have a vision for your career which is rooted to your values then you will be seen as someone to be kept hold of, and even promoted as and when opportunities continue to arise.

People will see you as bold, courageous.  You will be called inspirational.  People will turn to you for your opinion and guidance.

You become sought after and increasingly central to your team or organisation.

You will not avoid the tough times ahead but will be better positioned to roll with them, take the blows and carry on forward instead of falling into despair.  This resilience will, again, position you as a natural leader within your organisation as a result of developing your internal self leadership characteristics.

Here at Harrison Training we are continuing to expand our leadership skills training program for occupational therapists and other health care workers at all levels of seniority.  Let us know if this is something that you would like to bring into your organisation, or access personally, to help you and your people rise to the challenges that are to come.