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Using e-learning to support Self Care


 Download the case study in word format here

The Healthcare e-Academy, part of online training pioneer Virtual College, based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, now offers an important and original new e-learning module for healthcare professionals engaged in supporting patients’ self care and self management strategies.

The course has been developed to serve the present-day training needs of a wide range of front-line health service staff, including health visitors, district nurses, workers in minor injuries units, community matrons, GP surgery staff and – potentially - many others.

Geraldine Granath, the Head of People Development and Teaching for NHS South of Tyne and Wear in the north east of England, was a key member of the team which designed and brought forward the new self care e-learning module in partnership with the Healthcare e-Academy prior to its launch in 2009.

The initiative was supported by Skills for Health and NHS NE Health Authority (SHA). Three pilot sites in Lancashire, East Anglia and South of Tyne and Wear produced learning materials that supported the development of supporting self care. 

Asked to pinpoint the success and importance of the project, Geraldine Granath says: “It has filled a gap in our range of programmes in a new, innovative and flexible way.

“If you are a patient with a long-term condition, for example, you need support and encouragement to be able to manage your own health care as far as possible, to retain your independence and gain new skills.”

“Now, this new e-learning programme is available to the whole NHS and the feedback we have received so far has been extremely positive.”

Addressing the Healthcare e-Academy’s inaugural conference at Harrogate (July, 2009), Geraldine explained the reasons behind the decision of NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Gateshead PCT, South Tyneside PCT and Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, to back the e-learning self care project.

She said the three PCTs, which have a total of 4,600 direct staff, with a high proportion (approx. 1,000) of part-time staff, were seeing a shift towards 24/7 working patterns: “This presents new challenges in terms of delivering education and training. We need to work differently in today’s NHS and e-learning has an important role to play.”

For these reasons, the primary objectives in developing any new e-learning  programme had to be:
• Flexibility
• Ability to meet challenges
• Partnership and co-production
• Delivering quality learning

Geraldine’s own South of Tyne and Wear area, with a total population of around 900,000, has a “legacy of poor health,” including higher than average levels of lung cancer amongst women, and economic and unemployment issues which lead to some patients not looking after themselves properly.

“We thought there was a real opportunity here if we could help to produce something which raised awareness of the issues around self care and which could be used by centralised staff,” said Geraldine.

The key requirements for the format and content of the new course were that it should be:

• User-friendly
• Patient-centred
• Designed with learning assessment built-in
• Learning incorporated with self care principles
• Best practice-based but innovative

After consulting with patients, especially those with long-term conditions (who are regarded as the “top priority” for self care support) and reviewing the existing self care materials, the team came up with the core concept for the module – known by the acronym ‘STAN’ - which stands for the key elements for supporting a self care strategy for patients.

• Skills
• Tools
• Advice
• Networks

Complete with easy-to-follow learning stages, and an engaging character named Stan to introduce the different elements, the self care module incorporates a number of typical patient case studies.

Through the use of sign-posted routes through a fictional landscape, it introduces the core principles which healthcare professionals can adopt to provide support and resources to assist individuals in managing their self care.

These include: Patient education, self care skills training, health and social care information, care plan approach, self-diagnostic tools, self monitoring devices, peer support networks and home adaptations.

“We want engaging learning, not just text books on the screen. We wanted it to be humorous and about real patient situations and real people,” explained Geraldine.

“The STAN concept is flexible and can definitely add a ‘wow’ factor to e learning or discussion groups as part of face to face training.”

“In the end, the be-all and end-all is the knowledge that you get out of it, and I believe it can be a valuable addition to complement other forms of learning,” she said.

Pic caption: Geraldine Granath addresses the Healthcare e-Academy launch event.

Note to Editors
The Healthcare e-Academy has grown from – and now supersedes - the Virtual College’s TIGER e-Academy, which, since 2003, has successfully provided data protection and information governance-related training courses to 55,000 e-learners nationwide across more than 100 different organizations.
Key modules being offered by the Healthcare e-Academy include data protection and information governance, infection prevention and control, self care, urinary catheterisation for adults, blended or e-induction training, and statutory and mandatory training.
Many courses provide access to over 70 interactive screens with multiple components – including video – and take no more than two to three hours to complete.
The content of some courses has been independently certified as conforming to universally accepted Continuous Professional Development (CPD) guidelines. All modules are currently accredited for CPD by CPD UK, with discussions also taking place with the Royal College of Nursing as to the suitability of the modules for RCN members.
On completion of a particular module and an associated online auto-marking assessment, participants will be able to print a certificate of successful completion.
The Healthcare e-Academy, a standalone division of e-learning pioneer Virtual College, based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, was established following extensive consultations with information governance and human resources officers, and learning and development personnel within the NHS.
To find out more about the courses on offer or view a demo, visit healthcareea.co.uk or contact the Healthcare e-Academy on 01943 605976, email:
Virtual College now has some 250,000 online learners, over 100,000 of those in the NHS and local Councils, via its virtual learning environment.

For further information, please contact: Robin Moule, Healthcare e-Academy PRO, on 01756-794027, mob 07976-559961.

Download the case study in word format here

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