Developing, maintaining and keeping a thriving network requires commitment. Commitment in time, resources, enthusiasm and an almost fanatical devotion to purpose. And even if you've got all that, networks rarely function in a vacuum and are subject to the same uncontrollable external factors that plague pretty much every project, programme or dream you care to think of.
So how do we prove they are worth the effort, and can we use this to feed learning back into our network's development?
This time last year Rich wrote a blog on his top picks for venue spaces in London. One year later, a whole host of further events under our belt, and objections to the quality of sequels aside* I think it’s time to share the follow-up.
Whether venue hunting on a budget is getting you down, or you’re sat in another perfectly adequate – but entirely uninspiring – hotel conference room for an event, this is the blog for you.
Why do we care? We think a million and one details go into creating a good event, and your environment certainly makes the list. People feel more energised and are more likely to participate in your event if they’re in a venue that encourages that - it’s one of our core principles for event success.
We were very proud to facilitate the recent meeting of the Loneliness Action Group, a partnership convened and supported by the British Red Cross and the Co-op. We were particularly pleased to hear from some terrific speakers who provided important updates on the vital issues around loneliness.
Ramona Herdman, Head of Tackling Loneliness at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, updated the room on the implementation of the government’s Loneliness Strategy, which seems well under way.
Simon Chapman, Deputy Director of the Personal Care Group for NHS England, gave a fantastic presentation on the improvement and expansion of social prescribing in England that hopes to see the recruitment of 1,000 new social prescribing link workers by 2021 with a further few thousand by 2023. The group was also given the opportunity to feed into the government’s early thinking for its anti-stigma campaign through an interactive work session and, finally, encouraged to adopt the Centre for Wellbeing’s Brief guide to measuring loneliness.
Here at Kaleidoscope we are always looking for new ways to achieve our mission of bringing people together to improve health and care.
For our latest venture, we're exploring the avenue of storytelling as a way to overcome some of the barriers in health and care.
In Unheard in Healthcare we are collecting and presenting stories from all corners of the health and care community. Our aim is twofold. Firstly, we want to give people an opportunity to share their story. Secondly, we hope to spark conversations and debate between parts of the health system that don’t always have enough time to connect, including patients, clinicians, researchers, management and policy folk.
Ohio. Famous for picking US presidents (28 out of the last 30), and the birthplace of aviation (the Wright brothers grew up here in 1870s). Less famous for being home of a number of the most advanced healthcare networks in the world. With collaboration currently flavour of the month, what can the US teach us about working together?
A decade ago I swapped north London for the American Midwest, the NHS for Cincinnati Children's Medical Centre, and management consultancy for supporting an emerging learning network for children with inflammatory bowel disease.
During the nine years I called Ohio home, ImproveCareNow grew from nine care centres in the US to 109 centres all over the world, working with tens of thousands of children and their families collaborating to improve outcomes.
“Making something a reality.” Roll the phrase around. When would you use it?
In your personal life, if you’re anything like me, not much. If so, it’s probably something which won’t actually happen. Making daily gym-going a reality. Making my-attachment-to-ebay-less-all-consuming a reality.
Professionally? A bit more regularly. But likely to be in a similar context: something that I want to happen but don’t want to fully commit to. If you know it’s going to happen, why would you feel the need to assert that it’s going to become real? Stepping back, merely existing is a fairly low bar for success.
"Let's try again." Amanda, an amateur but talented ballroom dancer, restarted the music and daintily, expertly, cha-cha-cha'd her way into a lunge and twist, neatly picking up the basic step on the return beat. We enthusiastically followed her lead as she paced out the steps in front of us. Awkwardly, I crashed into the person next to me. "Sorry!" The class ground to halt for the fourth time. "And again," said Amanda.
Outside, a group of people clustered around six pieces of paper laid out on the table in the sun. "Beautiful." Catherine, an artist, pointed to one of the pictures. "The composition here is really strong. Look how the ivy leaf has come out as heart-shaped."
The group gazed at the emerging ghostly shapes of feathers, leaves, grasses and flowers, pale white on a brilliant blue background - their first exploration of the world of cyanotypes.
Last year we kicked off our event series Change in a Cold Climate with AbbVie UK. Involving face-to-face and digital events with a host of interesting and inspiring speakers, the series has focused on the nitty gritty of how change happens.
To narrow the playing field we chose to focus on learning from long term conditions care in particular, given that around 15 million people in England have at least one long term condition and their treatment makes up about 70% of the primary care budget in England.
The NHS is fragmented, but that doesn’t mean it’s broken. It would perhaps benefit from a new type of thicker glue. Learning networks have the potential to be the stronger bond to stop the shattering, prevent new fragmentations forming, and maybe even heal damage done.
And that's the reason why we at Kaleidoscope are really passionate about networks. As part of our work, I've been looking up some definitions about what a learning network is within a healthcare context. To provide context, I am naïve to the world of learning networks.
This ask was – I thought - simple: to find a definition of what a learning network is and what a learning network does that is easy to understand. However, I found this was not the case.
Having recently returned home to England from a nine-year stint across the pond, I've spent the last few months reading articles, asking questions and drawing diagrams. Earnestly I've been trying, and more often failing, to get my head round the various NHS organisations and how their remits intertwine and overlap as they desperately strive to work together to provide and improve health and care across England.
My first observation is that it's complicated, so complicated in fact that at times I've found myself scratching my head and repeatedly muttering to myself one of President Trump's most astute and truest statements, 'Who knew healthcare could be so complicated?'