Using webinars to increase knowledge and confidence
When Scotland’s 12,500 strong Allied Health Professions (AHP) workforce faced the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority was to maintain patient care.
The speedy roll out in April 2020 of the NHS Near Me video consultation service and Microsoft Teams communication platform to all health boards provided AHPs with a digital solution.
The NES AHP team1 immediately offered to support AHPs to use these new technologies to deliver their services. The primary focus was on improving staff confidence in the use of NHS Near Me, MS Teams and delivering virtual patient groups. Feedback from various staff networks indicated that webinars were an accessible format for a large, dispersed workforce and the team agreed to deliver the education in this way.
Delivering the webinars
From the start the team brought pace and scale to the challenge of helping the AHP workforce continue its services. It collaborated with partner organisations and clinicians to share stories of good practice, practical help and guidance and signposting to resources.
An important element in the format and content of the webinars was peer-to-peer support. Fellow AHPs helped each other to understand how they might use the technologies. The team invited colleagues who already had experience of using NHS Near Me to take part in the webinars. They were able to explain and demonstrate how it had helped them maintain a degree of service delivery.
The team promoted each webinar via Twitter, email and its practice education and COVID distribution networks. It also tweeted key messages live during each webinar.
The peak activity occurred from mid-April onwards with up to four webinars taking place each week. Attendees received a copy of the recording, the slides and any handouts after each webinar. The content was also published to the Allied Health Professions (AHP) learning site on Turas Learn.
The team offered the Near Me series to 8 uni-professional groups and used quality improvement methodology to refine webinar content and delivery. An evaluation1 conducted after four weeks showed that webinars offered an effective educational experience with increased knowledge, confidence and impact on service delivery:
- 94% of respondents reported improved knowledge of Near Me as a result of attending the webinars
- a 75.5% increase in staff using Near Me 8 weeks after attending a webinar
Encouraged by the positive evaluation of the initial webinar activity the AHP Directorate decided to expand the offering of topics. It featured those that had national relevance and demonstrable educational impact and that supported the strategic drivers and the pillars of practice. Topics were chosen based on priority areas highlighted to the team through its professional networks.
- dementia and learning disabilities
- children and young people
- supporting staff wellbeing
- identifying and supporting young carers
- assisting the recovery of AHP practice-based learning experiences for students
As the team developed and delivered new webinars it created new processes and tools to support the expansion in activity. These included:
- a webinar checklist
- guidance on the use of MS Teams and Trello
- guidance for presenters/speakers
- guidance on teaching large groups
- a template for webinar information
- a template for a webinar presentation
The team also delivered education sessions to the Practice Education Leads (PEL) network and wider team to build capacity. Two PELs also shadowed the team to gain wider knowledge and experience and now support the delivery of the webinar series.
Between April and October 2020, the team delivered over 40 webinars reaching an audience of 14,000. Recordings of the webinars have had over 10,000 views. Today the team continues to deliver webinars although at a lesser frequency.
Qualitative data2 gathered from use of Near Me and quantitative feedback2 from attendees has shown that the webinars were an effective way to improve knowledge and skills among the 14 allied health professions.
The team’s flexible and agile response to the challenge of helping the workforce maintain core services during COVID has had positive outcomes - workforce preparedness, knowledge and confidence. The resources developed to support the webinar activity and the recordings are now available to all AHPs via the Allied Health Professions (AHP) learning site on Turas Learn
The knowledge gained by the team has informed future planning and delivery of education to the national workforce. An AHP Listening Exercise is already underway. Additionally, key areas identified in the Framework for Supporting People through Recovery and Rehabilitation during and post-COVID-19 will feature in webinars over the coming months.
Allied Health Professions learning site
1NES AHP core team members: Gail Nash and Carol Curran (from NES); Marc Beswick and Ailidh Hunter (from the Practice Education programme). Also Audrey Taylor, Peter Glover and Finlay Johnson (from NES); and Jane Dudgeon and Jennifer Dick (from the Practice Education programme).
2British Journal of Healthcare Management
March, 23 2021