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South of Tyne & Wear NHS Trust

The situation:

The South of Tyne & Wear (SOTW) NHS Trust identified a need to develop a training resource for all new Trust staff as a way of promoting their public health education programme. The course had to link into several local and national NHS initiatives, including the NHS Knowledge & Skills and the Public Health Skills & Career frameworks.

The project:

In designing for such a wide range of users, with a mix of computer proficiency skills, we had to assume that the typical user had limited experience or none at all, or even very limited access to a computer in their workplace. The SOTW Trust recognised this potential shortfall of access and reach, and is working with us to develop future versions of the course which may be aimed at particular learning needs or exist in offline formats.

Cartoon showing Wendy the nurse talking to a patient about health MOT's

The key factors were:

• Ease of use – the navigation had to be clear, accessible and intuitive

• Instructions – keep the instructions clear and simple

• Literacy levels – keeping language simple to ensure readability was key and a SMOG test was undertaken to assess the accessibility of the language

• Keeping interactivity simple – those with limited or no skills are likely to need extra help in understanding ‘drag and drop’ concepts for example.

• Accessibility – this is a given but extra consideration had to be given to voiceover components to case study scenarios (presented as cartoons), since these formed an important part of the course, for those with visual impairments.

Along with the NHS project team, we developed:

• a fully branded virtual learning environment (VLE) for the course

• interactive content which allowed users to get more actively involved in dealing with the written information, health concepts and local health statistics

• visual case study scenarios of NHS staff, demonstrating how they might (and might not) promote public health in conversations with clients

• multiple choice self assessment units which allow users to test their knowledge.

Following an initial pilot of the course, we are advising the Trust on accessibility and further development of their course and their learning platform on a Trust wide scale.

The result:

‘Making every contact a health improving contact’ is a one hour self assessment course launched across the SOTW Trust. The course has been designed with enough flexibility that it can potentially be adapted to suit other Trusts on a local level, and there are plans for a rollout of the course across local government public health networks.

This is a pilot course which is intended to be released to staff over the South of Tyne & Wear NHS Trust and eventually over the whole North East NHS sector as well as in local government and community health improvement sectors.