Background Technology is evolving at pace and the health and care sector need to invest in both IT and their staff, to be able to deliver on high quality care in a digital age. There are recognised barriers to adoption of IT including negative attitudes, capabilities and time pressures (Booth, Strudwick, McBride, et al. BMJ. 2021; 373), however, improving digital knowledge and literacy is key to building an empowered and forward thinking workforce (Health Education England. Improving the digital literacy of the workforce [internet]; Royal College of Nursing. Every nurse an e-nurse: Insights from a consultation on the digital future of nursing. 2018). After securing funding from The Burdett Trust for a nurse-led IT project, our hospice recruited a Digital Health Project Lead, in post for one year, which we subsequently extended into a second year.
Aim(s) The project goals were to support and train clinical staff in our inpatient and community services with IT systems; champion ideas and innovation; and to investigate apps/technology which could improve both patient and staff experience.
Method An initial survey was sent to clinical staff to gain insight into attitudes towards IT, personal challenges and insights into training needs. This survey was repeated after nine months to gain insight into improvements or where further focus was needed. The Lead then delivered a training programme including one-hour sessions on mandatory clinical skills days (12 in total); drop-in workshops; and one-to-one sessions, in order to increase awareness of digital health; engage with staff; and plan further initiatives. Eight digital champions were recruited who received one-to-one support from the Lead in order to engage further with staff with day-to-day queries and to provide opportunities for empowerment. A set of Digital IT competencies was created, adapted from the Health and Care Digital Capabilities Framework (2018) and to date 65% of 120 staff have completed this.
Further funding has been secured to purchase a virtual reality headset, plus apps, which will aim to provide ‘bucket list’ experiences to patients. This will be supported by a task/finish group to include clinicians and digital champions. As a hospice, we recognise the importance of digital inclusion and year two will focus on more direct patient and carer contact through the development of a digital drop-in as well as supporting our virtual ward patients to use their own or loaned devices in order to have daily virtual consultations.
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