The primary aim of the Shared Learning and Knowledge Exchange programme was to engage with the partners of the mPower project as well as the wider health and care sector to discover, develop and share best practice and new innovative ideas. Its initial target was to train 420 individuals in the themes of mPower: health and wellbeing, social prescribing and digital health.
The work stream was a phenomenal success and achieved over 1,300 experiences of shared learning for project staff, health and care professionals and volunteers and staff in the community sector.
The achievement was due to active engagement with stakeholders to promote benefits and opportunities for collaboration and knowledge transfer with wider networks and stakeholders in each of the partner areas but also across disciplines and sectors. Critically, the approach taken was to listen to stakeholders to determine what they wanted and needed to know and explore. There was not a formal suite of ‘off-the-shelf’ packages, as whilst there were common themes across the jurisdictions, there were significant differences that needed to be accommodated.
The mPower Shared Learning output was valued as highly by the Project Board as any of the other project targets. The workstream was identified by partners as an opportunity to develop their staff and increase their knowledge and experiences, this was especially so in the field of digital health and care.
As evidence of the importance of this work to the project partners a modification was submitted to recruit a full-time Shared Learning Manager. The post was filled in April 2019. This role was fundamental in identifying training and development programmes in cross-border areas for health and social care providers, community and voluntary sectors. The postholder provided a focus for the work package which may have been lost in delivery, implementation and achieving the other target outputs.
In September 2019 the project was awarded an additional €1.3m for shared learning. This additional funding increased the target from 420 to 1,020 individuals. The additional outputs included significant cross border shared learning opportunities with exchanges and job-shadowing seen as a productive activity.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the extent of visits and exchanges was not possible. Adoption of the Project ECHO approach did though replicate many of the anticipated connections effectively although the additional value from onsite visits was missed.
Service and Quality Improvement Advisors who were recruited later in the project, also helped to support embedding pathways in the services, increasing capability, broadening and deepening of capacity to optimise the mainstreaming of the project’s activities as part of the legacy of mPower. The Service and Quality Improvement approach increased the ability to support sustainable, safe and resilient change across partners regardless of organisational structures, supporting the improvement of new ways of working, recognise new opportunities, and contribute to the effective delivery of new service offerings.
Across the board, partners and colleagues built relationships and positive partnerships to learn from each other and to capture and share good practice locally as well as across borders. With an extensive network of relationships, the number of opportunities to host knowledge exchange sessions and workshops increased.
mPower hosted onsite learning sessions, site visits, knowledge exchange sessions, specialist webinars, virtual learning network using Project ECHO education sessions, study visits, online peer support groups sessions, and mentoring networks. The work package culminated in a two-day event in Belfast in April 2022. Providing project teams and partners an opportunity to illustrate the learning gained and widening the reach of the project once again.
The project also provided training and development in Social Prescribing and eHealth activities in health and social care including community and voluntary sector staff as part of the project.
Some examples of the training provided are as follows:
- Motivational interview skills and techniques
- Listening Skills
- ECHO facilitation skills and opportunities to host a sessions
- Attend Anywhere training
- Self-Management training from The Alliance
- Digital Champion training from SCVO
- Psychologic First Aid Mental Health training
- Playlist for Life for Professionals training
- DNA Insights Social Prescriber Plus Programme accredited course