Friday, 16 September 2016

DAY 2: Health Libraries Group (HLG) Conference 2016

Day 2 of the conference promised to be as interesting as Day 1 as it started off with a Keynote speech by CILIP President Nick Poole on championing the role of information professionals in the future of healthcare. He stressed that we are sailing into an era in which evidence is all and we need to keep adapting and cannot afford to be complacent. He highlighted that the representation of information professionals can no longer be defined by job title, something that resonated with me from past experience completing surveys. He rounded up with the view that the future of the healthcare sector depends on harnessing the skills and ethics of Library and information professionals to deliver services that are smart, sustainable and future-proof. It is important to share the good work we do to demonstrate the value of trained professionals in the healthcare sector.
This was followed by an inspirational keynote speech by Lynn Daniel on how Expert Patient Programme Courses (EPP) helps people with long term conditions self-manage. The programme tutors and volunteers consist of ex-participants with long term condition themselves who can relate to the issues participants are facing. Some of the techniques they teach include distraction from pain, positive thinking/affirmation, action planning, problem solving, healthy eating, relaxation, mind body connection and physical activity. Some of the attributes she reported participants developing include a can do attitude, confidence, coping strategies, self-belief, positive thinking, empathy with others and an understanding that others have the same issues as they do.

David Stewart presented the first parallel session I attended on Knowledge for Healthcare: workforce planning, development and beginning the transformation. He showcased some of the achievements such as key CPD resources like the PKSB for health, Learning Zone, Leadership Programme, Talent Management Toolkit and a national CPD programme in the works. He talked about the existing criteria for the redesign of library and knowledge services and ideas such as a national library management system. I found Philip Barlow's presentation on producing introductory videos for library services interesting. It was useful to get to grasp with the real challenges they present such as finding time to record, a quiet place to do the recording and arranging with those appearing on screen. Philip stressed the need for the videos to be concise, to the point and welcoming. The video he produced covered the nature of the library service and was split into four sections on how to join, that you can borrow, electronic resources and training. It lasted 6 minutes (90 seconds per section) and took 14 weeks to complete. They introduced the video using multiple languages to make it friendly. These videos get NHS users to consider using the Library before they actually need it. It isn't always easy to get a slot for the Library at inductions or part with library staff to attend these inductions so these videos are a very useful alternative. He finished with a reference to a good presentation on online training using screencasting by Jane Cooper.

After a short break, I attended a parallel session on reviewing the NHS Library Quality Assurance Framework (LQAF) by Dominic Gilroy, Clare Edwards, and Linda Ferguson. Linda started off with the history of quality assurance in NHS Libraries and highlighted what past assurance systems have achieved which include new positions, investments, refurbishments, raised profiles, evidence, innovation and service improvement. Clare then talked about issues necessitating a review now such as the constantly changing NHS environment, meeting the KFH aims, and the HEE Quality Strategy and Framework. Dominic talked about the initial work that has been done on the revised LQAF. The emphasis is on a product that is aligned to the HEE Quality Startegy, HEE Quality Framework, and Knowledge for Healthcare. A non-restrictive product which is outcomes focused. Completion time and effort required needs to be minimised and it should be applicable across the NHS in England. They have agreed on the aims of the Task and Finish Group, engaged in a literature review, gathered feedback from library services and are awaiting outputs of the evaluation framework sessions. There was a hands-on exercise requiring attendees to consider a quality assurance exercise they have taken part in and complete the sentence, LQAF would be even better if ..... Recurring themes included the need to be less time intensive, more focussed, less frequent, common understanding, more friendly, also a visual board for the financial year where feedback and evidence collected can be added for collation when LQAF is due.

We broke up for lunch which gave me the opportunity to catch up with members of my project team on the Knowledge for Healthcare Leadership Programme. This was followed by the Bishop and LeFanu Memorial Lecture where Triathlon coach Gareth Allen presented on how exercise can have a positive effect on mental health. It linked well with the earlier speech by Lynn Daniel. He talked about the benefits of physical exercise on mental wellbeing and gave case studies with practical examples on how exercise has helped some patients with mental health issues alleviate their condition. Some implemented solutions for mental wellbeing include Fieldhead Fit, Parkrun, Running / Sports Club and Low intensity exercise for those with less mobility.

There was a Question Time panel where thought provoking questions were both asked and answered from the floor and the panel. It was all quite intense. They covered what the single most important priority for Knowledge for Healthcare is (Patient and Public agenda), linking Knowledge for Healthcare to the Higher Education sector, issues with HDAS, succession planning, role reclassification from Admin/Clerical to Scientific/Technical, affordability of accredited courses, loss of the wealth of knowledge and existing skills from NHS Direct and pro-rata CILIP membership fees for part-time staff.
The last session I attended was on practical tools to collect evidence of impact using the online toolkit by Susan Smith & Doug Knock. There was a great exercise which encouraged us to arrange our evidence in order from feedback to impact as a way of identifying what is most relevant for submission to demonstrate the value of the service being offered. It is also important to consider whom the measures are being done for. The conference closed with Sarah Hennessy thanking speakers, sponsors, attendees and giving out the prizes for competitions including exhibition posters.

A lot of the conversations I had steered me towards how much the conference content centred on NHS work and how attendees from other health sectors would probably feel left out. This is something that would need to be rectified if we are to foster partnerships for Knowledge for Healthcare. I had a great time at my first HLG Conference and learnt a lot that can be implemented in my own service. Looking back, I feel like I could have done more but I was quite wiped out by the end. There was a lot of content and not quite enough time to process them. It left me wondering if an annual one day conference supplemented by frequent workshops might be an option. It would probably make it more affordable for those willing to self-fund and might make it easier to convince organisations to sponsor. It could result in boosted attendance and perhaps more paraprofessional attendees. Food for thought.

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