Regional neonatal units celebrate highest delayed cord clamping rates in England

Maternity and neonatal (MatNeo) units across the South West are celebrating achieving the highest delayed cord clamping rates in 2020 in England, as measured by the National Neonatal Audit Programme (NNAP). On average, units across the South West also achieved the third lowest rates of mortality to discharge, the second lowest rates of necrotising enterocolitis, alongside the fourth highest administration levels of magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) across England.

The NNAP assesses whether babies admitted to neonatal units in England, Scotland and Wales receive consistent high-quality care, and identify areas for quality improvement. The NNAP’s most recent audit shows delayed cord clamping was at its highest level in units in the South West. More than a 20% difference was illustrated between South West units (at 60.6%) and the second highest performing region (39%). Evidence shows that avoiding immediate cord clamping reduces death in preterm babies by nearly a third.

These results follow intensive activity across the region to drive adoption and spread of a range of neonatal interventions, including delayed cord clamping and MgSO4, through a unique care bundle known as PERIPrem (Perinatal Excellence to Reduce Injury in Premature Birth).

Implementing PERIPrem

Launched in April 2020, PERIPrem is a perinatal bundle designed to improve the outcomes for babies born before 34 weeks. The West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is delivering PERIPrem in partnership with South West AHSN and South West Neonatal Network. The bundle consists of eleven interventions that demonstrate a significant impact on brain injury and mortality rates amongst babies born prematurely.

The bundle was the first of its kind, and co-created by clinicians, MatNeo teams and parents. Since April 2021 PERIPrem has continued to be delivered across the region as part of the NHS Improvement Maternal and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme. A number of NHS Trusts across England are now implementing care bundles based on the PERIPrem model.

Achieving results

By providing frequent share and learns, 360 simulation videos, toolkits and quality improvement coaching to facilitate the spread of knowledge and best practice, PERIPrem increased confidence in delayed cord clamping. This incudes when babies are extremely premature, require resuscitation at delivery or are part of a twin delivery. Free cord clamping resources can be accessed on the PERIPrem webpages.

The NNAP explains that necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) “is a devastating illness which can follow preterm birth. Bowel inflammation prevents milk feeding and surgery may be needed. Babies who develop NEC typically stay in hospital for a long time. Rates of mortality in babies with NEC are high, at over 20%. Babies who survive NEC can have developmental as well as long-term feeding and bowel problems”. Units in the South West achieved the second lowest levels of NEC (at 4.7%) in England. Rates of NEC are directly influenced by two PERIPrem bundle elements: probiotics and early breast milk.

Learning from PReCePT

Building on the progress made nationally through the AHSN Network PReCePT programme (which was developed in the West of England region), the administration of MgSO4 remained a core intervention of the PERIPrem care bundle.  The administration of MgSO4 to all eligible women in England during preterm labour (less than 30 weeks) reduces the incidence of cerebral palsy. Magnesium sulphate costs from just £1 per dose. Free MgSO4 resources can be accessed on the PERIPrem website.

The focus across a broad range of interventions known to reduce mortality led to the region achieving the third lowest rate of pre-term mortality to discharge home in England (at 5.6%).

Natasha Swinscoe, Chief Executive of the West of England AHSN and Patient Safety Lead for the AHSN Network said:

“To December 2021 over 1090 babies have benefited from the PERIPrem bundle. It is a testament to the hard work of all South West MatNeo staff, and everyone who contributed to our PERIPrem project, that the South West region has the highest levels of delayed cord clamping alongside multiple other positive results which crucially include the third lowest level of pre-term mortality in England.

Launching PERIPrem during a pandemic, and at a time of extreme pressure on the NHS, wasn’t easy but these results illustrate the dedication and enthusiasm to improve the safety and life chances of the most vulnerable babies and their mothers”.

Sarah Bates, Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and PERIPrem Neonatal Operational Clinical Lead said:

“Working as part of the PERIPrem team has been an inspiring experience. The results of the NNAP illustrate the impact the bundle is having – it’s particularly striking to see average delayed cord clamping rates in our units at least 21% higher than in other regions. In all my years looking at similar data I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wide range.

Knowing that PERIPrem has longevity locally and is now being adopted in other parts of England, illustrates the potential it has to change the lives of pre-term babies – that is something everyone who contributed to the project can be very proud of”.

At the 2021 HSJ Patient Safety Awards, PERIPrem was highly commended in the category of Patient Safety Pilot of the Year. PERIPrem was also shortlisted for Provider Collaboration of the Year at the HSJ Awards in 2021.

Read more in our PERIPrem case study.

The full NNAP report and data can be accessed here.

Book now: accredited quality improvement for pharmacy teams launches

The West of England Academy are hosting a new series of five free-to-attend interactive online workshops each Tuesday evening from 1 March. This is the first series of introductory QI workshops tailored specifically by the AHSN for pharmacy teams.

Attendees will gain a basic understanding and practical knowledge of applying Quality Improvement (QI) techniques to real-world pharmacy challenges in healthcare and innovation.

Modelled on our hugely successful QI Summer and Winter Series, this five-week course, held over 90-minutes each Tuesday from 18:30pm can be joined as single sessions or a series.

“This was a fantastic introduction to QI, which is what I needed. I loved how things were explained so clearly and the session was interactive. It really helped my understanding, and I got a lot from the session”.

The accredited workshops have been developed, and will be delivered by, the West of England Academy and Medicines teams alongside guest speakers. Topics include introductions to process mapping, data management and the basics for change management. The series will earn attendees six CPD hours.

Attendees will see how QI can lead to better outcomes for their teams, patients and organisation, gain confidence in applying QI and have time to network with pharmacy colleagues from across the region.

“I am newly appointed as a QI manager so have used all the tools and techniques in my daily work and shared this with other colleagues and teams”.

Attendees can be in any role and/or grade within their pharmacy, and clinical or administration.

Our academy works hard to welcome attendees from a broad range of backgrounds creating a safe and open environment for learning and sharing ideas.

“The practical skills and frameworks are fantastic and such a great way to engage and inspire others. They will definitely help identify why a challenge is a challenge and instigate conversations about how we can overcome and/or improve processes”.

Find out more about the series and book here.

The West of England Academy offers a wide range of free events and resources to healthcare professionals and innovators across the region. To find out more, visit our Academy pages or email weahsn.academy@nhs.net.

QI in pharmacy? It’s a brave new world.

In a new joint blog from Senior Project Manager, Chris Learoyd and Ola Howell, Clinical Pharmacy Lead at the West of England AHSN, we explore the value of Quality Improvement (QI) for pharmacy teams, why it hasn’t really been embedded so far and how pharmacy can get involved.

Bringing together mental health teams to improve patient safety and health equity

On 30 November the South of England Mental Health Quality and Patient Safety Improvement Collaborative (known as the MHC) held an all-day learning event for mental health teams across the South of England. The event – held online – was an opportunity for sharing learning and networking, which has been particularly challenging for large geographic collaboratives during the pandemic.

Hosted by the West of England AHSN, the collaborative was created in partnership with the South West AHSN, and now includes Kent, Surrey and Sussex AHSN, Oxford AHSN, and Wessex AHSN alongside 16 mental health trusts across the south of the country. The MHC aims to improve the quality and safety of services for people with mental health conditions.

MHC learning events enable collaboration across the mental health sector in order to foster quality improvement (QI) approaches to patient safety, drive health equity and review progress against the ambitions of the NHS England Mental Health Patient Safety Improvement Programme (MHSIP), which includes reducing restrictive practice.

The event was chaired by Dr Helen Smith, chair of the MHC and National Clinical Lead for MHSIP with around 90 people joining the event from project teams across the South of England.

The event began with a presentation on experiencing, challenging and addressing inequalities from Chris Lubbe, NHS England. Chris was previously an anti-apartheid activist and acted as Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard. He therefore offered a unique insight into inequalities.

Sussex NHS Foundation Trust then presented on delivering a reducing restrictive project as part of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

This was followed by a World Café where colleagues from four mental health teams shared their experiences of reducing restrictive practice. This offered a vital opportunity to share learning and consider different approaches.

Presentations then followed from Cornwall NHS Foundation Trust on Reducing Restrictive Practice:  Drivers linked to ‘Seni’s Law’; Creating conditions for learning, and finally QI approaches focused on the live, learn and lead methodology.

Following this event, members of the MHC will continue to meet regularly for QI coaching sessions and all-day learning events.

Feedback from attendees:

“Thank you for such a thought provoking presentation. The take home message for me is to dig deep and speak up and say something”.

“Really good ideas – we will be shamelessly stealing the calm cards in particular! Thank you”.

“What went well? Chris’ presentation to start off the day – an inspirational speaker. Amazing and really highlighted the inequalities within everyday life, including our own services. Also the interactive break out activities”.

If you would like to find out more about the MHC please email weahsn.transformation@nhs.net.

QI in pharmacy? It’s a brave new world.

In this joint blog from Senior Project Manager, Chris Learoyd and Ola Howell, Clinical Pharmacy Lead at the West of England AHSN, we explore the value of Quality Improvement (QI) for pharmacy teams, why it hasn’t really been embedded so far and how pharmacy can get involved, including at our first-ever Pharmacy Showcase on 12 January.

First we hear from Chris…

As the Senior Project Manager for the Medicines Optimisation team at the West of England AHSN, but a former Physiotherapist, I won’t say it was always easy, but I have finally got my head around the wider challenges and issues with safe prescribing of medications.

The numbers are eye watering – circa 237 million medication errors occurring at some point in the medication cycle per year in the NHS in England and 66 million of these considered potentially clinically significant errors. Reducing medication errors can clearly have a significant and immediate effect on patient safety.

We know that as experts in medication management and optimisation, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are ideally positioned in the healthcare system to improve current processes and reduce avoidable medication-related harm – and that QI approaches are vital to creating lasting change.

As every pharmacy team will know they are being positioned more centrally within healthcare services and have more clinical autonomy. Services such as the Discharge Medicines Service and Community Pharmacy Consultation Service provide a step change to embed pharmacy professionals as an important first point of call for healthcare information rather than traditional settings such as General Practice / Emergency Departments.

Introducing QI

Despite all this, pharmacists often lack the basic tools required to lead on or participate in QI initiatives as they’ve historically not been trained or required to perform QI projects. This is slowly changing, and here at the AHSN we’re working to drive adoption of QI approaches across pharmacy.

Here we’re handing over to Ola who gives details of the reasons for this, the impact and our new offer for pharmacy colleagues….

I’m a clinical pharmacist and over the last 12 years I’ve worked in a community pharmacy (very many of them), a General Practice (very briefly) and a hospital (or three, to be precise). Over those years I have met hundreds of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists determined to ensure their patients got the best (aka safest) care they could.

But I’ve never worked on QI before – what is it?

We are diligent, we are keen, and we are truly brilliant! No need to argue that. The thing that we are not good at is quality improvement. It is not that we don’t do it well, we simply don’t do it enough… And why would we? If you are anything like me and your registration number starts with 20*****, you would, most likely, had never been taught what QI is and how to do it well.

It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I started hearing about the QIPs, the PDSAs and the “driver diagrams”. Maybe I was not expected to know then, but I am now. (And there are masses of free resources on the West of England Academy website to help anyone embarking on QI work – but join our Pharmacy Showcase on 12 January to hear more about free, interactive and tailored support for your team).

Embracing QI to support our profession and wellbeing

Like never before, we are forced to do more and faster with less resources and time. We need to learn how to improve what we do in order to survive. And we need to do it now. The numbers are scary, with every fourth pharmacist reporting feeling ‘very stressed’ at work, mainly due to the increased demand for services and the lack of funding. That is 37% of community teams (up from 17% last year), 20% of hospital pharmacists (up from 10% in 2020) and 14% of GP and PCN pharmacists (up from 5% in 2020)[1]. I anticipate that the figures among pharmacy technicians follow a similar trend. Grim. Burnout alarm bells ringing all over the place.

When I asked around, I wasn’t surprised by the number of suggested solutions to various work problems we come across every day.

Not-a-surprise No. 1: We often know what goes wrong.

Not-a-surprise No. 2: We also often know a solution (or improvement) to the status quo. We sometimes even make that improvement ourselves!

For some reason, however, we rarely document the before and after and so are unable to prove our intervention has worked. “I am not wasting time on the data collection when I have so much to do”, I heard recently from a fellow pharmacist. “But your idea is brilliant! And it saves time, so if other people knew about this, the impact could be huge”, I reply. “Nah, too much effort”, I hear back. I bet this sounds familiar…

Don’t we all roll our eyes when an audit arrives and we need to fill out a spreadsheet, often without pausing for a moment to question what it’s for, and how the results will affect us in the future. Here in lies the answer – capturing our learning and experiences through QI.

Get involved

So come and meet us on the 12 January at our Pharmacy Showcase to hear about the projects our AHSN is involved in, meet the team, network with other pharmacy colleagues and learn more about a free, tailored Pharmacy for QI course coming in spring 2022.

[1] The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2021, Vol 307, No 7955;307(7955)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.114907

Marking COPD Awareness Month – improving patient safety

During COPD Awareness Month, the acute hospitals in the West of England have been celebrating their work to improve patient safety as part of the NHS England and Improvement Adoption and Spread Safety Improvement Programme. This has included a 34% increase (to June 2021) in the number of patients receiving all elements (for which they are eligible) of the COPD Discharge Bundle.

The British Lung Foundation describes COPD as a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have become narrowed. This causes breathlessness. Worsening of breathlessness (often as a result of infection) is called an exacerbation. Exacerbations of COPD are one of the leading causes of hospital admission, and readmission following exacerbation also occurs frequently. All admissions to hospital have a negative impact on patients both physically and psychologically. Reducing the impact of admissions for lung disease is one of the key ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Adoption and spread of the COPD Discharge Bundle

Providing COPD patients with a number of simple interventions while they are in hospital, can reduce the chance of readmission. These interventions (listed below) form the COPD Discharge Bundle:

  1. Inhaler technique assessed and corrected
  2. Patient or carer has written information & understands their self-management plan
  3. Provision of rescue medication packs
  4. Smokers referred for smoking cessation
  5. Assessment for enrolment in pulmonary rehabilitation
  6. Appropriate follow-up arranged within 72 hours

The National Patient Safety Improvement Programme project – which started in November 2019 – has focussed on increasing the use of all appropriate elements of the bundle. This work has been coordinated across the region by the West of England AHSN alongside each of our acute hospital trusts:

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHT)
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GWH)
  • North Bristol Trust (NBT)
  • Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH)
  • University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust (UHBW)

Improving patient safety

Since commencing the project, we have seen some significant regional and local improvements in delivery of the bundle:

  • 34% of patients in the West of England region received every element of the bundle (for which they are eligible) in June 2021, up from 0% in November 2019.
  • From April to June 2021, between 66-71% of COPD patients across the West of England were provided with a self-management plan.
  • In June and July 2021, 100% of GHT COPD patients had their inhaler technique checked.
  • In June 2021, 91% of GWH COPD patients who smoke were offered smoking cessation support.
  • In July 2021, 95% of RUH COPD patients were assessed for their suitability for pulmonary rehabilitation.
  • In RUH and GWH over 90% of COPD patients had a follow-up appointment arranged.

Working collaboratively to drive improvement

Through a West of England network, the respiratory teams have worked collaboratively to collectively share ideas and overcome barriers to optimise the use of the bundle.

Alongside improvements made to the delivery of the bundle, each team has also completed their own local quality improvement (QI) project to improve aspects of patient care. These projects are related to the bundle elements, including upskilling staff on Brief Intervention Training for smoking cessation, reviewing self-management plans and delivering training to improve front door diagnosis. The outcomes of these projects will be shared and celebrated through the month of November.

Mark Juniper, Respiratory Consultant and Clinical Lead at the West of England AHSN said:

It has been great to work with the teams from different hospitals on this project for the last two years. Despite the pressure on respiratory services during the pandemic, they have managed to improve the care of patients with COPD. This work has provided an ideal focus for improvement and bringing the teams together to share ideas and what they have learned has been really exciting.

What’s next

On 9 November, we are running a joint event with the South West and Wessex AHSNs on the wider aspects of COPD and asthma care. This event is now fully booked however recordings of a number of the sessions will be available afterwards, so please join our waiting list.

The West of England AHSN are also celebrating COPD Awareness Month – and World COPD Day on 17 November – throughout November on Twitter. This will include showcasing the QI projects undertaken by each respiratory team.

The COPD Discharge Bundle is one element of the national Adoption and Spread Patient Safety Improvement Programme. Find out more about our work on the programme here.

PreciSSIon awarded Quality Improvement Team of the Year

We are delighted to announce that PreciSSIon – a regional collaborative to reduce surgical site infection after elective colorectal surgery – has scooped an award in the Quality Improvement category at The BMJ Awards 2021.

The project – in partnership with Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust; Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; North Bristol NHS Trust; University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust; and Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – was awarded the accolade for using original ideas in quality improvement to better outcomes for patients.

Anne Pullyblank, Medical Director, West of England AHSN said:

“This has been a fantastic project to be a part of, and the figures we have been able to achieve at such a challenging time for many in hospitals are absolutely incredible. Combined regional average baseline figures showed surgical site infection (SSI) was 18% pre-November 2019. Implementation of the PreciSSIon bundle elements in all trusts between November 2019 and June 2021 resulted in an amazing almost 50% improvement in SSI rate, leading to a regional average of just 9.5%; a significant improvement in patient experience.

The collaborative element enabled staff and trusts to support each other during the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and engagement was high, with theatre teams in particular being empowered to make a difference. It’s amazing for the hard work of everyone involved to be recognised at the BMJ Awards in the Quality Improvement category.”

Read our Celebrating PreciSSIon article: Reducing SSI rates by 50% with estimated savings of over £500k.

The BMJ Awards ceremony took place on the evening of Wednesday 29 September.

This follows PreciSSIon winning the Perioperative and Surgical Care Initiative of the Year at September’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards. The collaborative project was also shortlisted for the Infection Prevention and Control Award.

Find out more about PreciSSIon.

Quality improvement for primary care workshops launch

The West of England Academy are hosting a new series of five free-to-attend interactive online workshops each Friday from 16 April.

Attendees will gain a basic understanding and practical knowledge of applying Quality Improvement (QI) techniques to real-world challenges in primary care.

Modelled on our hugely successful QI Summer and Winter Series, this five-week course, held over 90-minutes each Friday from 12noon can be joined as single sessions or a series.

The workshops have been developed, and will be delivered by, the West of England Academy team alongside guest speakers. Topics include stakeholder mapping, process mapping, data management and the basics for change management.

Attendees can be in any role and/or grade within their organisation, for example from clinical, administration or facilities.

Our academy works hard to welcome attendees from a broad range of backgrounds creating a safe and open environment for learning and sharing ideas.

Find out more about QI for primary care and book here. 

The West of England Academy offers a wide range of free resources to healthcare professionals and innovators across the region. To find out more, visit our Academy pages or email weahsn.academy@nhs.net.

Introducing the quality improvement (QI) winter series

The West of England Academy are hosting a series of five online workshops each Wednesday from 27 January on quality improvement (QI). Free to attend, and for any innovator or employee within healthcare, each one-hour session is standalone so you can choose individual workshops or sign up for the series.

Each workshop will be interactive, so you can apply learning in real-world scenarios. The workshops will be beneficial regardless if you are working on a specific QI project or not. If you encounter challenges in your role (or outside work), and want to consider how these can be tackled through QI, these sessions will help.

Attendees can be in any role or level within their organisation or business; for example clinical, product development, administration or facilities.

Our academy works hard to welcome attendees from a broad range of backgrounds creating a safe and open environment for learning and sharing ideas.

The West of England Academy offers a wide range of free resources to healthcare professionals and innovators across the region. To find out more, visit our Academy pages or email weahsn.academy@nhs.net.

New adoption and spread guide launched

It is estimated that across the UK, a third of healthcare improvement projects never spread beyond their particular unit, a further third are embedded across their organisation but never spread further than that, and only the final third are spread across their own and other similar organisations. Through the West of England Academy supported by our new guide, we aim to support our member organisations and innovators increase the adoption and spread of successful innovations and improvements in the health and social care sector.

quote from guide

Successfully spreading improvements and ensuring changes are sustained requires overcoming numerous challenges, such as:

  • Creating an awareness of why the change is needed
  • Ensuring those involved have a desire to support and participate in the change
  • Knowledge of how to bring about change
  • The skills and resources to bring about the change
  • Ensuring processes to sustain the change

Our new guide (which you can download here) sets out suggestions to be considered for the successful adoption and spread of innovation and improvement projects. Our Academy will also be hosting a free series of workshops focusing on adoption and spread in spring 2021.

The West of England Academy provides a range of free resources to help you gain knowledge and develop essential skills for innovative thinking and working. We promote the use of quality improvement methodologies to support delivery of better patient care. We also offer a range of resources focused on evidence and evaluation.

If you would like further guidance on this subject, please contact us through Innovation@weahsn.net.

Our Academy also hosts free workshops and learning events. Whether you are looking to learn more about: inventing, innovating, improving or realising impact, and whatever your background or healthcare experience, we hope we’ll have something suitable for you. If you have any suggestions for potential events, or know of any training that we can share then please contact Academy@weahsn.net and let us know.

Reflections on hosting virtual interactive workshops

In this Q&A our West of England Academy Project Managers Kate Phillips and Vardeep Deogan share their reflections on the delivery of the Academy’s recent Quality Improvement (QI) Summer Series. They led 10 hours of online interactive workshops and delivery of QI theory by 12 different facilitators to around 60 delegates per session from across the West of England region and beyond. The Academy team have also compiled a series of slides with their top tips on hosting virtual learning.

Vardeep talks about virtual learning

  1. What did you enjoy about the QI Summer Series?

Vardeep: Every part of our workshops had a purpose, so being creative and thinking outside the box with activities without making them complicated was really important. Supporting our guest facilitators was a pleasure too. After our fifth session, we really felt a sense of achievement, and we cannot wait to deliver future online workshops.

Kate: An unanticipated pleasure was coaching our guest facilitators. Vardeep and I were the main hosts, but wanted the series to reflect the wealth of knowledge and range of experiences of working with QI across the West of England. We also figured that our voices might be a bit dull for two hours straight! Considering that online training was a fairly new concept, this meant that Vardeep and I mentored our guest facilitators to deliver their 25 minute activity. The feedback from the guest facilitators was lovely – they felt challenged by the experience but also supported. I think they were all very proud of themselves which was great to see.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the sessions has also been wonderful. Vardeep and I cooked these sessions up, combining our knowledge and experiences and we seemed to have stumbled upon a winning formula!

“Exceeded my expectations – I learnt so much.”

    2. What are the differences between online and face-to-face delivery?

Vardeep: When delivering face to face it’s much easier to ‘read the room’ for non-verbal communication and how people interact with each other, and as a facilitator you respond accordingly. We had to think differently about how to get this feedback during and throughout each workshop. This involved designing activities and including opportunities for feedback using functions like slido, the chat box and voting.

We also considered different learning styles and made certain to include activities that reflected these. Using liberating structures supported this.

Kate: The whole experience is different- quite often I’d be looking at only one or two faces in the corner of my screen, but knowing I was talking to 50+ delegates who had prioritised our training over other work, it’s a bit of a barmy experience really! I think delivering online sessions brings a different type of nervous energy…the adrenaline flows!

   3. Can you tell us about your biggest ‘aha’ moment?

Vardeep: As the series progressed, even though we may have been delivering our fourth or fifth session (and at times felt we were repeating ourselves with instructions for activities etc.) we kept in mind that this may be someone’s first experience on zoom or of virtual learning. I realised the value of clear instructions from the positive feedback we received where our clarity was praised. This was a key learning point.

Kate: For me, a lovely moment during our second session was when Vardeep asked a delegate to turn their mic on and share their experiences verbally with the entire group. We regularly asked delegates to share feedback via the Zoom chat box, but giving individuals the platform to voice their thoughts brought the session alive. It did mean having to relinquish some control, but it was worth it every time. Sharing the platform was important.

“I think I’ve learned more in this two-hour online session than any other face-to-face course I’ve attended!”

    4. Have you learnt any new skills with online facilitation/delivery?

Vardeep: I’ve learnt you have to be even more adaptable and fluid when delivering online. Anything can happen at any time (tech issues!) and you have to be able to step in and pick up anything, whether this is the delivery of a session or an aspect of facilitation. Every member of the team needs to be able to pick up any role and this really stretched me and took me out of my comfort zone – we survived a few hairy moments.

Kate: I had delivered a few online webinars before, but they were very much ‘chalk and talk’ style. I’ve loved learning about, and using, Liberating Structures to keep delegates engaged and to facilitate interaction between them. I’ve also enjoyed thinking creatively to convert traditional face-to-face QI training for online delivery.

   5. Have you learnt anything about yourselves during this project?

Vardeep: Working alongside Kate to plan every session in detail, really enabled me to be fluid and agile to the needs of others, particularly guest facilitators. I’ve learnt that with the right team around you, you can adapt to any last minute change and for it to still feel under control and most importantly – fun.

Kate: I’ve learnt that my happy place is extremely organised and where I’m in control. Fortunately Vardeep is very good at making me feel safe enough to step outside of that and allow space for spontaneity and discussion, and that’s where the magic happens! On the flip-side, I’ve learnt to value the skill of organisation and I don’t think we could have pulled off this series without it.

“Really good workshop today – best I’ve attended during this whole pandemic, so thanks to you and your colleagues”.

  6. What has been the biggest challenge?

Vardeep: You never truly know how you’re being received online until you read the feedback.  Over the five sessions I got used to smiling and talking to a camera instead of being able to make eye contact and responding to non-verbal cues. That often felt odd but it’s vital to the person the other side of the screen.

Kate: At the start I was overwhelmed with the task that lay ahead of us, thinking about all the details. Fortunately I work with brilliant colleagues who made this series a true team effort. I was able to focus on planning and delivering the sessions in a step-by-step way, knowing that the event logistics and marketing of the series were being expertly handled. Breaking down the roles, tasks and working as a team was crucial.

 7. Do you have any top tips for online delivery?

Vardeep: Plenty….

  • As a facilitation team agree a way of communicating with each other behind the scenes (such as Whatsapp). This allows you to adapt, adjust or abandon as you go along.
  • Plan your sessions with timings in mind. This is invaluable and is a skill – things often take longer virtually. This also includes prepping any guests.
  • Allow time for a team pre-brief and de-brief after each session. Kate, Shomais and I always spent time reflecting on what went well, what didn’t go so well and we also captured new ideas to incorporate for the next session on ideaz boards or jamboards.

Kate: I think one of my favourite phrases from this series was “team work makes the dream work”. We couldn’t have delivered such a slick series without the designated online technical support that our colleague Shomais provided. Having clear roles and responsibilities in the team was important, e.g. being clear on who is responding to questions in the chat box, who is co-ordinating break-out rooms and who is introducing facilitators and welcoming delegates back from breaks. I think the clarity of roles and knowing we could depend on each other, created a safe space to do each of our jobs really well.

Thanks to Kate and Vardeep for sharing their experiences.

Further information about the West of England Academy’s online resources and future events can be found here.