Implementing & evaluating a community of practice for health visiting - final report

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Manley, K. ; Greaves, J. ; Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex ; Kent Community Healthcare Foundation Trust ; Medway Community Health
  • Subject: RT

This report presents the context, approach and findings arising from implementing and evaluating a Community of Practice (CoP) for Health Visitors across Kent and Medway funded by Health Education England (Kent, Surrey and Sussex) and built on the launch of the Communities of Practice concept in Kent and Medway (Keen et al 2013). The intention of the CoP, with its focus on health visiting practice, was to support a Health Visitor from each locality across Kent and Medway to:\ud •develop their skills in practice development and clinical leadership\ud •create effective learning cultures within which students and practitioners can flourish\ud •explore how the effectiveness of health visiting can be demonstrated\ud \ud Two interrelated methodologies, action research and practice development were selected because they both focus on practical action in the workplace that is systematically implemented and evaluated through collaborative, inclusive and participative approaches. Three overarching processes (methods) were used to support the health visitor clinical leaders included active learning (Dewing 2008), action learning (McGill & Beaty 2001) and critical companionship - a helping relationship that focuses on helping a practitioner to learn (Titchen 2000). \ud \ud Within the lifetime of the project 18 co-researchers across two cohorts were recruited to the action learning sets; recruitment of co-researchers was undertaken in partnership with service managers. Four powerful influences emerged that impacted on the co-researchers’ participation in the project and also the potential for sustainability of the CoP project.\ud \ud Understanding the factors and strategies that influence the successful implementation of Communities of Practice is important to others who may be involved in similar initiatives. The limitations of the project are explored with recommendations for a range of organisations. Resources and outputs are shared and promoted widely to help others develop effective workplace cultures that use the workplace as the main resource for learning.
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