Leading by Example: The HEE/CILIP Leadership Development Programme – A Trip to HLG

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 37 (3/4)

Sam Burgess
Library Service Manager
Hampshire Healthcare Library Service

Heather Steele
Library and Knowledge Lead
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust

We are sure that you will have seen or heard much about this year’s HLG Conference, but we all have something different to take away from conferences, so here is our take on the events held at Keele University.

We were there primarily to present on our statistics project that we are working on part of the leadership development course; indeed, the whole of the project team was there to have their say although due a clash in conference timing Heather was unable to attend until the last 30 minutes as she had her own presentation to give on ‘developing a  quality and improvement virtual bookcase to support knowledge mobilisation in a mental health trust’. 

It was a hard job to present following the keynote from Mark Murphy as he really demonstrated a passion for evidence based health care and sharing decisions with patients.  However, we managed it with a fairly packed house as we described our journey to where we are now and what we wanted from those in the room.  The intention was to use some creativity to encourage people to think freely, but due to a lack of tables in the room, it didn’t work quite as well as we had hoped.  Nevertheless, the responses that we had essentially corresponded with all the data that we had collected so far and confirmed that we were on the right track. (Do watch out for the toolkit, which we hope will be launched on the KfH blog at the end of September or early October.)

It goes without saying that the whole conference was superb – lots of networking done with new connections forged and old ones re-established.  But there were a few standout sessions that were really thought provoking for Sam.

The first one being an introduction to health literacy (Ruth Carlyle) were we were introduced to the now-familiar statistic that 43% of adults do not understand textual health information, and that rises to 61% when numbers are included in the text.  Ruth has some clever techniques to remind people that you don’t need to have low levels of literacy to find it difficult to take in information – attendees were encouraged to use their left hand to write down the information that Ruth was reading aloud at high speed – it’s HARD!  We were then asked to use our left hand to right down our name and home address at our leisure – most of us achieved that, which neatly highlights the issue of absorbing unfamiliar detail when stressed, as most of us are likely to be when visiting hospital.  If nothing else, this session reminded me that even those that function highly in everyday circumstances can have low levels of health literacy understanding depending on the circumstances.

The second session that got Sam thinking was her first opportunity to take part in a fishbowl conversation (Victoria Treadway and Tracey Pratchett) as prior to the conversation they sought volunteers to “open” the fishbowl conversation and she said she would.  If you have never been involved in a fishbowl conversation before we would encourage you to do so, even if it was somewhat daunting to sit in the middle of the room with two other volunteers and be watched by about thirty people as you begin a conversation on the practical barriers to demonstrating impact and how to overcome them.  Essentially the fishbowl conversation is another method of knowledge mobilisation with those in the “fishbowl” constantly changing as those watching step into the middle to add their knowledge or share their thoughts.  Although the conversation went well and was an inspiring process, it was interesting to see that there are limits to a fishbowl conversation in that the circle around the room was far too crowded and there were possibly too many people involved.  In addition to which, as someone that needs to lipread, Sam found herself circling the fishbowl to find the best vantage point to hear those in the middle – which then led to a conversation with Tracey about access to such events if you have additional needs. i.e. how would someone in a wheelchair take part without feeling awkward.  On reflection, Sam feels that the leadership course has given her the confidence to put myself where she can take best advantage now that she feels more empowered (previously she would have just sat where she could and hoped for the best!)

Although there were other interesting sessions, the final one that Sam want to touch on is session covering the ‘improvement librarian – the next generation clinical librarian” (Roxanne Hart) as this is a really innovative way to bring knowledge management and library services to those that are working on quality improvement.  Particularly as Roxanne is embedded in the QI team three days a week and has developed her own SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Response) form to support her literature searches.  Interestingly, Roxanne notes that HDAS is no longer her first port of call and this reiterates our own observation that we need more in the way of alternative databases to the old standbys of Cinahl and Medline.

This session was also really useful to Heather, who has recently moved into the QI team in her Trust. Using the skills honed during the Leadership Development Programme Heather has spoken to her manager, Head of Continuous Improvement, and the library service now has a desk in the QI office for more embedded working.

All in all, a very interesting conference with highlights such as Laughing Yoga (which went on just a little too far as to become farcial!), a performance from the Tenovus choir at the conference dinner, and an inspiring Bishop and LeFanu lecture from Isla Kuhn on volunteering her information skills for Evidence Aid.

As a reflection on the conference and the leadership development course, Sam believes that the two events didn’t really have many (if any) cross over points.  That said, Sam did feel rather more able to network, get involved, and generally become part of the conference rather than an observer.

Just as everyone else writes on the subject of the HLG Conference….if you get the opportunity to attend – take it – it’s always worth it.

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