Digital Practitioner: Learning, reflections & my top 10 tips for leading in the middle
As the end of the ‘Digital Practitioner’ pilot looms, it’s time to reflect on the journey since my last blog post in June. In this blog I’ll be sharing where we are now, a few quotes on what our cohort thought of the project, some key points to remember, and my top 10 tips for that challenging role of leadership in the middle.
Where are we now… We’ve taken our first cohort of health and social care occupational therapists through the full intervention. We got a third of the way through our second cohort, before unforeseen circumstances meant that they had to put on the brakes. We’re hoping that our second cohort will join us in what will be the final cohort of health and care practitioners for the pilot project.
If you recall, our final iteration of the digital practitioner model was set to be delivered in a different way. We did this because of the feedback and learning from the other cohorts. We developed the ‘value of digital’ online course, based around the essence of original intervention, and have just launched that for several small health and care teams to work through. The course will run for 6 to 8 weeks, and we’ll review the findings late December/early January.
A few quotes from our Occupational Therapists on what being on the digital practitioner intervention has meant for them
“Our service is now getting smart phones thanks to being linked up with the right people at LCC for the business case”
“This has spurred the team on to get paper light quicker”
“Before this I didn’t know any of the other occupational therapists, or what they knew about digital”
“We have now implemented a buddy system alongside a (smartphone) app to keep staff safe on visits”
“I have recently used digital to enable a patient to make an informed choice about whether his home environment was in a suitable condition for him to return home.”
“I have used the internet to demonstrate equipment to families (via You tube videos)”
“I would definitely recommend this website to anyone (including patients) who is interested in learning to use digital resources and need help to understand the basics”
“Knowing there’s an trusted app library gives me the confidence to share with my patients”
“We had a good chat about [safety] in our team and I have since written a lone worker policy as a starting point as we didn’t have one before”
There’s a wealth of knowledge, experience, and appetite to use digital within services, and with those accessing services. We should encourage innovation, support learning, and grow networks across the health economy.
Technology moves faster that we can act. We’re all still catching up with technology and what it has to offer. A lack of ‘essential’ kit to enable practitioners to become more digitally focused remains a firm issue. We should, however, still be looking at how we leverage the benefits of the abundance of existing technologies that are already available to us.
One size does not fit all in terms of digital products. Staff, and those accessing services, should be involved in testing and selecting kit that suits the needs of the service and those who work in it. Beyond this, securing protected time to learn, trial and embed new technologies into the service and existing processes, is absolutely essential to avoid new initiatives failing.
My top 10 tips for leadership in the middle
- Keep listening, hear what’s being said, and work together towards a common goal.
- Have a shared purpose, and check that what you’re doing is taking you towards that rather than diverting you away from it.
- Be clear on your circle of influence and your circle of concern. Lots of things concern us, but we may have little or no influence over them. Everyone will gain more if you work within your circle of influence (see Franklin-Covey’s 7 Habits Leader).
- Change won’t happen unless there’s trust. Build trust first and foremost.
- Always think co-design, and put the ‘human’ element at the centre of any service improvement or change.
- Know who your network of supporters and influencers are.
- Know the individuals in your team, and how the team dynamics work together.
- Clarify expectations, and work to individual preferences for communication and support.
- Keep commitments.
- Culture eats change for breakfast (hence all the points above).
Resources: Please feel free to read all of our journey PLUS view, use and reuse any of our resources from the project, all found at www.mydigitalwheels.com
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If you’d like to join in, or start, a conversation on digital in health and care on our Digital Practitioner twitter community you can find us at @mydigitalwheels | hashtag: #digitalpractitioner