Healthwatch England and the Institute continue online learning collaboration
Following the success of the ‘Online Engagement Techniques’ course we created for Healthwatch England, we were given the opportunity to produce a second bespoke online training module for local Healthwatch across England.
The impact of the pandemic forced local Healthwatch to abandon public events and face-to-face engagement, and find new ways to reach the seldom-heard, in particular, those that are not considered online. “The subject matter is very current, particularly considering the effects of increased online communication resulting from the pandemic” said Michelle Kay of Healthwatch Brighton & Hove, who co-produced the course alongside colleague, Lester Coleman, and Healthwatch Islington’s Emma Whitby.
Once again, the Institute’s Martyn Beeby and Steve Inett were assigned to the project and began development on a course titled ‘Ways to engage people who are not online”. It is a tricky area to consider – it is not as straightforward as who has a broadband connection or owns a smartphone; so, the input of local Healthwatch was key once again.
“We hope by working with us, it helped to ground the materials in the real experience and context of local Healthwatch, making the materials pertinent to our specific role, and to the constraints within which we are working across the network.” comments Emma. Michelle added, “Each local Healthwatch brings its own unique experience to a co-production based on the local area we work in, which is likely to reflect on the objectives of any course we undertake”.
The result was a 45-minute e-learning course that explored the process of who to contact, why and what we mean when talking about people who are not online. It offered techniques and mechanisms for reaching those people and included guidance specific to COVID-19 restrictions.
Reflecting on their work with the Institute, Emma commented “Partnering with an organisation like tCI is a great way to expand knowledge, skills and experience beyond Healthwatch, bringing in new ideas and likewise, sharing our experience outwards”. Michelle added, “We worked well together as a team and our meetings were not just talking shops, they were productive and focussed which on top of the enjoyment, was satisfying to be part of”.
In April 2021, the course launched to all 151 local Healthwatch and the initial take-up was very promising. On building the course, Martyn commented, “We loved working with Healthwatch England again. We’ve developed a great working relationship with Marianne Patterson and local Healthwatch and I think it shows in this excellent second module”. He added, “I’m aware that the course has already had an excellent take-up and it’s wonderful to know that we’re helping local Healthwatch with their engagement techniques and in turn, help to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to have a say without being excluded by digital-divide”.