In a move to drive higher standards of healthcare for its 375,000 NHS patients and 100-plus occupational health physiotherapy services, Connect Health has launched the Academy – an in-house learning centre for the company’s clinical and operational colleagues nationwide.
Building on its fundamental values that a well-trained workforce means better outcomes for patients, the leading community healthcare services provider has accelerated the opening of the Academy, a year early, in a move positively impacted by COVID.
In an industry where continued professional development (CPD) is sometimes disordered and unfairly weighted, Connect Health’s Academy ensures consistency across the board. The Academy provides clinical and operational teams a multidisciplinary education curriculum that is easily accessible and tailored to a person’s skills and needs.
Managed by a faculty team of 70 educators, incorporating 11 curriculum streams and 172 training sessions, learning is currently managed via virtual classrooms. However, the company expects to see this transition equally between online and practice-based study, once it is safe to do so.
Appointed in March 2020 to help establish the Academy, Ash James, National Education Lead at Connect Health, explains:
What we are now offering is more rounded, better aligned and timely education suited completely to a person’s competency and needs.
Each team member will have their own unique training programme that they can work through. Set within competency framework parameters they will access the most up-to-date, evidence-based learning available that will ultimately help them deliver better care to their patients.
Outside a Higher Education Institute (HEI), there are few organisations with the comprehensive structure we have, that can provide the tools to build the body of evidence and depth of learning required, all within Health Education England’s new advanced practice framework[i].
Whilst Connect Health’s approach has always been staff-centric, evidenced by its latest workforce satisfaction scores of 90% across the company, the Academy represents a significant evolution in training and development.
Lisa Davidson, Chief People Officer, Connect Health explains:
The level of professional development at Connect Health has always been brilliant, but the Academy brings a national structure to clinical education delivery to ensure we are constantly measuring the effectiveness on a national basis, linking to clinical behaviours and patient outcomes. It offers a much broader view of how education and development can impact the wider business. This is a positive step for attraction and retention of a high quality workforce and has a multi-professional approach. It shows we have a great structure to our development and a clear career progression from student, new graduate to consultant.
John Gates, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Team Leader (Nottingham) is one of the Academy’s educators. He concludes:
There will be a focus on active learning and pedagogy methodology to enhance application and creation rather than rote learning and knowledge. This will lead to a new wave of critical thinkers excelling in the four learning pillars (Clinical Practice, Leadership, Research and Education) and their specialty.
My team is excited about pre-organised structured learning, including testing of knowledge and application to case studies. It will undoubtedly support evidence-informed practice to deliver quality care to patients. It’s fantastic to offer such an easy-to-use interface and catalogue of education that those working flexibly during the pandemic can access.
Clinical learning covers topics relating to Connect Health’s specialist healthcare areas of expertise encompassing rehabilitation, MSK (musculoskeletal) disorders, pain and psychology, orthopaedics, rheumatology, and occupational health. Modules include ‘an introduction to rheumatology’, ‘pain management and medication’ and, ‘patient and public engagement’.