I always said this blog would be sporadic! Just to show I haven’t entirely gone to ground, here are two for the price of one. The first can be found at http://conversationsinhsc.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/guest-post-collaboration-and-integration – my reflections on a recent seminar on collaboration and integration, one of the Conversations in Health and Social Care hosted by the University of Edinburgh. Bob Hudson from Durham made us feel good to be living and working in Scotland, while Helge Ramsdal from Norway outlined a system where localism rules. Read more if you are interested on their site.
Yesterday I went along to the launch of a partnership initiative between Glasgow Caledonian University and SCVO designed to involve service users (or as I prefer people who access support) and carers in all aspects of teaching, learning and research in the School of Health and Life Sciences. A current example is the family placement educational experience through which third year students on the learning disability nursing programme spend two weeks with a family with a child with disabilities. A parent and a student outlined what they had both gained from the programme. Peter Scott from Enable talked more broadly about the ways in which his organisation seeks to ensure the involvement of people with learning disabilities across their operations.
The GCU Principal, Pamela Gillies, and the Dean of the School, Nicky James, also contributed. The Principal outlined the University’s commitment to using their skills ‘for the common weal’, exemplified by the Caledonian Club which uses students as mentors in nursery, primary and secondary schools in areas with low participation rates in higher education. The Dean argued that ‘users, carers and students are our moral compass’, and as part of the approach embracing all the different players outlined the commitment to interprofessional training being introduced across the School.
How refreshing to hear a vision that embraces the wider community in this way, positively encouraging involvement of everyone and engagement with the messy realities of everyday life. I spent three decades working in Universities and, much as I enjoyed it, the environment was very inward facing. The sense was often that the wider community was for observing and studying rather than for embracing and engaging. As someone dubious about the policy of transforming every higher education institution into an identikit university, a strategy which seeks to take the university world out to the community rather than seek to draw everyone into it makes a lot of sense. Even more encouraging is the real attempt to train people of different professions together. As Scotland moves forward on integrated working, much time and energy is devoted to learning what other professions do and breaking down the tribal barriers that have gone up over time. If only all this could be prevented in the first place; hopefully with these initiatives we can have some optimism.