staff trained online over two weeks.
How Alzheimer’s Scotland trained and supported staff in the use of a new tool.
Training and supporting staff to use a new tool
As the pandemic hit, Alzheimer’s Scotland swiftly shifted a number of face-to-face services to online delivery, developing an associated training rollout for staff in order to ensure a smooth transition. In the summer of 2020, they kindly shared their approach to staff training with us via a full Service Recipe, which we have summarised below.
Alzheimer’s Scotland offers support to people suffering from dementia as well as their carers and families. Due to COVID-19, they had to accelerate the shift of some of their face-to-face services to online digital delivery. Initially used as an online drop-in service, the charity decided to expand the use of the NHS Attend Anywhere platform, moving services such as 1-to-1 Support and Small Group sessions to remote online delivery.
In order to ensure a smooth switch, Alzheimer’s Scotland took great care in developing a training rollout strategy for their staff, as well as ongoing support channels, to ensure their staff - some of whom had little to no previous knowledge of the platform - were well equipped and continually supported to use the platform with confidence.
Alzheimer’s Scotland has used learnings from their experience to provide this step-by-step guide for others looking to train staff in the use of new platforms:
How the solution was reached
1. Developed a training Strategy
Alzheimer’s Scotland trained up their staff prior to using the platform. They rolled out staff training by first sending out an email to all the staff in the various localities to ask them what they would be delivering, i.e. 1-1 sessions, small groups or both. This helped them know what content to include in the training, as 1-1 sessions use the ‘waiting room’ whereas group meetings use the ‘meeting room’.
Training sessions needed to be done in small groups due to the limitations of group sizes once in the NHS Attend anywhere platform.
2. Delivered training sessions
Training was delivered through two different platforms, first Microsoft Teams and then the NHS Attend Anywhere platform. Some notes on these as below:
- Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including live collaboration on documents) and application integration. It provides teams with the ability to work together and share information via a common space.
- NHS Attend Anywhere is a secure online platform for patients to attend consultations via video call. It has a single access point, meaning that participants simply need to have the link to the session to participate. When used in NHS settings it is known as NHS Near Me. In terms of GDPR requirements, the platform automatically purges all the data related to the session upon exiting the session. To request access, contact the local administrator, in either Scotland, England or Wales.
Microsoft Teams was used to deliver the first half of the training to small groups of staff. Here, staff learned about the platform and were provided with training materials and a walkthrough for the NHS Attend Anywhere platform via file share in their Teams workspace.
The training was then moved onto the Attend Anywhere platform, keeping people in their original groups. The staff members delivering the training had to clearly explain what was happening so that people could follow. This meant that they avoided losing people in the switch from Microsoft Teams to Attend Anywhere.
The staff were introduced to and walked through the NHS Attend Anywhere platform. Here they had the chance to explore and try out the platform and its features for themselves.
It took Alzheimer’s Scotland two weeks to fully roll out the training to 200 staff due to the small groups.
3. Set up a support channel
A dedicated support channel was set up in Microsoft Teams where trainers and peers could share hints, tips and training resources. It also acts as an open questions space where people can ask for help from others, encouraging peer support.
The channel is also a place where staff can share any interesting group activity ideas they come across, as well as any existing materials. This reduces effort in creating duplicate resources.
Alzheimer’s Scotland has provided the following guidance notes:
When training up staff, consider what they will be using the platform for and thus what type of training they will need - they might need specific training for a certain type of room, or a mixture of the two.
Make sure you plan enough time for training. As the NHS Attend Anywhere platform is restrictive on the quantity of participants in group sessions, Alzheimer’s Scotland delivered the training in small groups of no more than six people at a time. This meant that rolling out the training took two weeks, so be aware of planning in a potentially longer training time than expected.
Alzheimer’s Scotland brought other staff into the training, as ‘train the trainer’ sessions to help with the rollout. This gave staff more confidence and they emerged as champions.
Consider building peer support when it comes to supporting staff when introducing a new tool. Alzheimers’s Scotland has set up a supportive space within their own Microsoft Teams workspace where they share hints, tips and resources. It is also a place to ask questions and share any interesting group activity ideas and materials.
Trial new platforms before rolling them out. Alzheimer’s Scotland trialled the platform with their teams to check that staff knew how to use it correctly and felt comfortable with the platform.
Things to watch out for
When training staff remotely, it may be much more mentally taxing, so consider breaking up the session into blocks if needed.
Not everyone may be advanced in their digital skills so there may be some extra support needed.
It may be harder to gauge how your staff are feeling as you rely solely on verbal cues.
Participants in training sessions might be less engaged as they could be easily distracted in their own environment.
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