Alzheimer’s Scotland offers support to people suffering from dementia as well as their carers and families. Due to COVID-19, they have had to accelerate the shift of some of their face-to-face services to online digital delivery. Initially used as an online drop-in service, the charity decided to expand the use of the NHS Attend Anywhere platform, moving services such as 1-to-1 Support and Small Group sessions to remote online delivery.
In order to ensure a smooth switch, Alzheimer’s Scotland took great care in developing a training rollout strategy for their staff, as well as ongoing support channels, to ensure their staff were well equipped to use the platform and are continually being supported.
This recipe has been in use since March 2020.
We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Alzheimer’s Scotland’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.
Users and needs served
As a member of staff with little to no previous knowledge of the platform, I need to be trained in how to use it so that I am able to and feel confident in using it.
NHS Attend Anywhere is a secure online platform for patients to attend consultations via video call. It has a single access point meaning that participants simply need to have the link to the session to participate. When used in NHS settings it is known as NHS Near Me. Note: To get access, you’ll need to contact the local Attend Anywhere administrator. For access in Scotland see here. To get access in England and Wales, see NHS Attend Anywhere: England and Wales.
Free for organisations in Scotland with a health focus
Conforms to GDPR requirements - the platform automatically purges all the data related to the session upon exiting the session. Staff or clients do not need to do anything further after closing the session. This makes it easier to comply with data and privacy regulations.
The platform is accessible through a URL Link. This means that there is no need to collect or require any personal data such as an email address or phone number.
Communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including live collaboration on documents) and application integration. It provides teams with the ability to work together and share information via a common space.
Free version of Teams including unlimited chat and search, online meetings and video calling, 10GB of team file storage and 2GB of personal file storage as well as real time collaboration with Office apps for web e.g. Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. Non-profits may be eligible for Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Office 365 E1. You will need to contact your Microsoft partner or sales representative for this.
Has a demo version
Enterprise security and compliance
Provides one centralised hub meaning that everything is in a common space
Easy sharing of files and collaboration on documents
Integrates with all online Office apps, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote
1. Developing a training Strategy
Alzheimer’s Scotland trained up their staff prior to using the platform. They rolled out staff training by first sending out an email to all the staff in the various localities to ask them what they would be delivering, i.e. 1-1 sessions, small groups or both. This helped them know what content to include in the training as 1-1 sessions use the ‘waiting room’ whereas group meetings use the ‘meeting room’.
Training sessions were to be done in small groups due to the limitations of group sizes once in the NHS Attend anywhere platform.
2. Deliver training sessions
Training was delivered through two different platforms, first Microsoft Teams and then the NHS Attend Anywhere platform.
Microsoft Teams was used to deliver the first half of the training to small groups of staff. Here, staff learned about the platform and were provided training materials and a walkthrough for the NHS Attend Anywhere platform via file share in their Teams workspace.
The training was then moved onto the Attend Anywhere platform, keeping people in their original groups. The staff members delivering the training had to clearly explain what was happening so that people could follow. This meant that they avoided losing people in the switch from Microsoft Teams to Attend Anywhere.
The staff were introduced and walked through the NHS Attend anywhere platform. Here they had the chance to explore and try out the platform and its features for themselves.
It took Alzheimer’s Scotland a total of 2 weeks to fully roll out the training to 200 staff due to the small groups
3. Set up a support channel
A dedicated support channel was set up in Microsoft teams where trainers and peers could share hints, tips and training resources. It is also an open questions space where people can ask for help from others, encouraging peer support.
The channel is also a place where staff can share any interesting group activity ideas they come across as well as any existing materials. This reduces effort in creating duplicate resources.
When training up staff, consider what they will be using the platform for and thus what type of training they will need - they might need specific training for a certain type of room, or a mixture of the two.
Make sure you plan enough time for training. As the NHS Attend Anywhere platform is restrictive on the quantity of participants in group sessions, Alzheimer’s Scotland delivered the training in small groups of no more than 6 people at a time. This meant that rolling out the training took 2 weeks, so be aware of planning in a potentially longer training time than expected.
Alzheimer’s Scotland brought other staff into the training, as ‘train the trainer’ sessions to help with the rollout. This gave staff more confidence and they emerged as champions.
Consider building peer support when it comes to supporting staff when introducing a new tool. Alzheimers’s Scotland have set up a supportive space within their own Microsoft Teams workspace where they share hints and tips and resources. It is also a place to ask questions and share any interesting group activity ideas and materials.
Trial new platforms before rolling them out. Alzheimer’s Scotland trialled the platform with their teams to check that staff knew how to use it correctly and felt comfortable with the platform.
When training staff remotely, it may be much more mentally taxing so consider breaking up the session into blocks if needed.
Not everyone may be advanced in their digital skills so there may be some extra support needed.
It may be harder to gauge how your staff are feeling as you rely solely on verbal cues.
Participants in training sessions might be less engaged as they could be easily distracted in their own environment.
Points of contact
For further information about this recipe, you can contact:
Head Of Digital
Many thanks to Alzheimer’s Scotland for contributing this recipe.
Do you have thoughts on this recipe? We would love to hear from you.