Episode One – Chatting Info Lit

The first episode of Chatting Info Lit is available to listen to now!

In our first episode, Ella Wharton (University of Nottingham) chats to Katie Wise (Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust), about the importance of health literacy. Katie also talks about Conversations of Care, a communication training project developed at Royal Berkshire Hospital. Other topics include experiencing burn out and imposter syndrome as a new professional, Katie’s unusual route into the profession, and what information literacy means to her.  

Please tell us a bit about yourself!

I’ve been working in the Library sector for almost 6 years, starting in an admin role in an academic library, to a library assistant in an NHS library. I completed a Library assistant apprenticeship in Feb 2022 and got a secondment position as a Library and Knowledge Specialist.

Which sector do you work in? What are the important issues for information literacy practice in this context?

In the healthcare sector, and what I’ve observed at our acute Trust, the key issues around information literacy needs are health literacy, digital literacy and English literacy. Whilst we’ve been trying to address these needs and deliver information literacy training, the main issue is the time that staff have to dedicate to training, when they have to balance info lit training programmes with working clinical shifts and caring for patients.

What example of interesting, informative or inspiring information literacy practices would you like to share? Tell us all about it!

In February 2022, we launched a programme called ‘Conversations of CARE’, initially designed by a member of the Learning & Organisational Development team. I was asked to collaborate on the project, help design the content and observe some of the sessions. When the member of staff left in March after the first cohort had completed the course, I was asked to take on the project. I reflected on the first cohort, redesigned the content, and launched cohort 2 and 3 in May.

The purpose of the course was to provide international staff who have English as a second language a chance to practice their English speaking skills in an informal setting, with a programme designed around the Trust’s CARE values. They would learn more about each value and the behaviours expected, discuss examples in their own role, identify opportunities to develop these values further, and learn how to recall examples that could be used in their annual appraisals.

The course consisted of five sessions of 1.5 hours spread over 5 weeks with the first week as an introduction, and the remaining four sessions looking at each CARE value. This was later reduced to three sessions of 2 hours each to make it more accessible for busy clinical staff who couldn’t commit to five weeks of sessions.

It was important that the course was engaging and interactive, with the majority of exercises being conversation based. Each week had at least one game, one activity, a video, a reflective exercise, group discussions and peer-learning, all themed around the behaviours relating to that care value. For example, during the ‘Excellent’ week, the learners had an

activity where they had to help one person navigate through a paper maze blindfolded, which highlighted different ways of showing support to each other. Then they repeated the exercise but they weren’t allowed to give any help or support. Afterwards, we’d discuss how it felt each time, offering support, putting your Trust in someone else to guide you, and watching someone struggle but not being able to help.

The course also highlighted important areas that they may not have ever had a chance to discuss before, for example, the importance of patient safety and why it might be difficult to speak up, especially for international staff who may find language a barrier.

Each group was fairly small, consisting between 2-6 people, as I tested different sizes of group to work out what worked well. I concluded that an ideal sized group was 6 people, as there would be enough people to contribute to the group activities and discussions, but small enough to allow a chance for everyone to contribute and feel heard.

Who are the learners? How did they engage with this IL intervention?

The course was designed for bands 1-4 staff who have English as a second language. It was recognised that there currently wasn’t any programme or course designed solely for bands 1-4 and that appraisal completion rates was also quite low for these staff. As half of the appraisal is focused on how staff show they are demonstrating the CARE values, this could be a barrier to staff progressing in their careers. One cohort told me that they had completed a similar course with higher bands and they didn’t get a chance to contribute because the higher staff dominated the conversations.

Some of the staff were healthcare assistants who needed to pass an English language test before they could become registered nurses, and so they had signed up for the course to have a chance to practice their English conversation skills. Each week I showed them some phrases which could be used, and I would help them with using the correct words or pronunciation when giving examples. Ipads were also available to use Google translate for those with lower English skills.

The feedback received has been very positive – overall the course has been rated 9.1 out of 10. 22 staff members between bands 1-4 have completed the course, from 13 different countries, and 15 gave feedback.

When asked what they have learned from the course, respondents listed many things including the CARE values and how to implement them, new phrases they can use in their job, what they can do to help with their appraisal, conversation skills and how to provide better care. They enjoyed meeting other people on the course, playing games, and the simple and easy to understand content. I also asked what they would do differently in their role, which many said they would practice having more conversations, they would speak up more, and have more confidence in themselves.

Why would you like to share your story with new professionals? Why is it important for the profession now?

I was first involved in this course as a Library Assistant but while I was on secondment I inherited the course, developed it further and facilitated it. I am very passionate about helping ESOL staff and helping to give a voice to staff who are on lower bands. I’ve learnt so much since February, and every time I deliver the course I think of something else that I want to tweak or change. Having delivered six cohorts now, I have seen each group do the tasks slightly differently or bring up experiences or opinions that I’ve not considered before and each group is exciting.

It was tough though, as I spent 49.5 hours delivering the course, with a huge amount of time needed to create content, do admin work, promote the course, and reflect on what I’d learnt. I had members of the Library & Knowledge Services and Learning & OD team observe several sessions, and one of my colleagues delivered a couple of sessions when I was off sick but for most of it, I was the only facilitator. I also had to balance all of this with my other work. As I am a new professional, I wanted to show that I deserved to be given this project and that I could cope with the responsibility, which is probably why I scheduled so many cohorts into a couple of months

If you would like to hear Katie and Ella in conversation on this project, check out Chatting Info Lit episode one.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Spotify:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/chatting-info-lit/id1673423506

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/chatting-info-lit-podcast

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/18iLL0XJhLMg9YW8IXcPSi

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