Sunday, 10 January 2016

Dispensing innovation, education and digital futures

Last week I took part in a Leadership Safety Round at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust. I am a Non Executive Director there and the Leadership Safety Round was part of a regular series of events that allow Executive members of the Trust Board to meet with front line staff and hear their ideas, concerns and achievements. Last week’s visit was to the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU), a very busy unit that takes patients directly from GP referrals as well as through the Accident and Emergency Department. I have to say I was blown away with what I saw and what I was able to discuss with the staff working there. Kim Whiteside (Ward Manager) played host and what an inspiration she was! Clearly leading a highly motivated team from the front, she appeared to literally have her finger on the pulse of what was a unpredictable and turbulent clinical environment.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Kim made a spontaneous Dragons Den pitch for some investment in the way the MAU stored, dispensed and ensured safe medication administration. The MAU had both the 'traditional' medicine storage arrangements, and was also the site for the 'out of hours medication' storage. The latter was a state of the art and highly innovative piece of kit like the one shown here from Omnicell. It was finger print controlled, linked to the hospital information system and main pharmacy and was extremely easy to use. It really did ensure safe medicine practice was possible. The downside, well this innovative piece of technological kit cost in the region of £20,000 to buy. But her case needs considering!

Innovation featured in other ways in my week. 06.00 on Monday morning, the first day back for me after the Christmas break, I found there was no internet connection in the School. There was no milk in the fridge, so it was black coffee, and a chance to catch up on my reading off-line. Ironically, the report I had to hand was the 'Innovating Pedagogy 2015' report published by the Open University and SRI International. I really enjoyed reading it and you too can also take a look at it here. The report identifies 10 trends that are likely to transform education over the next decade.  

These trends include 'crossover learning', learning that is enriched by experiences from everyday life; learning 'through argumentation', learning that draws on promoting the understanding of contrasting ideas and technical reasoning; 'incidental learning', the unplanned or unintentional learning that can occur while carrying out an activity that is seemingly unrelated to what is learned, often triggering self-reflection; interpreting new information in the context of where and when it occurs and relating this to what is already known can lead to 'context-based learning'; the use of 'computational thinking' through deconstructing complex problems, pattern recognition, abstraction and disregarding unimportant details and developing algorithms; 'learning through experiment', but doing so by accessing and doing science at a distance; and ‘embodied learning’ via wearable sensors, cameras and mobile devices; personalising access to learning materials through computer based applications that promote ‘adaptive learning’; with some of these approaches also being used for 'stealth assessment' and 'student engagement'. It’s a report that makes fascinating and compelling reading,  

Last Friday morning, I took myself off to the 'Landing' at Media City UK as I was to take part in a workshop aimed at exploring how a digitally connected Salford could improve the lives of those living with dementia. Facilitated jointly by Salford City Council and HAELO, there were colleagues from the Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Primary Care services, CVS, Salford Local Authority, Housing Associations and of course the University’s Dementia Institute. There was much innovation to be seen. From using big data to understand patterns of behaviour, prevalence of health and social problems, through to using assisted technology to keep people safe from themselves, and to enable others to care for those most vulnerable. The latter allowed families to keep a 'running commentary' going on what their loved one was doing and helped the Police develop highly sophisticated search approaches to be employed when someone goes missing. It was truly impressive stuff. The workshop was the start of something very innovative and very exciting – 'Dementia United' – watch this space for the official launch later in the Spring.