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  • Articles

    Working at homeALSG realised a number of years ago that we cannot safely assess our candidates on the level of their clinical care, ability to work with colleagues, communication skills, professionalism in a single moment, in one high-stakes test. Through studying assessment literature, we learned that putting all of our faith in one summative assessment was based on a number of flawed assumptions.

    We took the decision to move to a form of ongoing or multiple assessment, realising that repeated sampling and triangulation by different assessors were both essential. We recognised that the students needed to be far more involved in the process and have agency and be heard, therefore they needed more meaningful and ongoing feedback. This meant putting much more emphasis on assessment for learning, guiding and coaching.

    We've made adaptations over the last few years, learning from our successes and our challenges. We will keep on doing this and striving to improve the experience for our candidates. We are on an exciting journey.

    As we return to some sort of normality, many people will be returning to their offices for the first time in many months. This is a transitional time as we recalibrate the way we work, as COVID-19 has not gone away.

    Our employers will take care of the physical safety aspects such as only going in one way and exiting another, social distancing of desks, along with rigorous cleaning but how mentally prepared are we?

    Being mentally prepared for returning to work or the office after so long is a vital part of everyone’s role. As feelings of stress come from anxiety, we have some practical tips to help you be more prepared for the transition back to work or the office.

    • Being prepared can prevent pitfalls and reduce feelings of stress and this comes by preparing yourself for your daily tasks. This may be doing some research to understand what’s needed or speaking to a colleague, all of which helps reduce anxiety.
    • Never go to a staff meeting without having prepared in advance updates about a particular piece of work you’re undertaking and how you are going about it, what the timelines are and what the outcome is likely to be.
    • Another technique is to focus on your tasks, make a real commitment to that day and if need’s be, make a list of the things that need doing which’ll provide that focus.
    • Concentrating hard on your role not only helps to achieve a positive outcome but it diverts your mind by being fully absorbed.

    At the end of the day, it takes time to get back into the new pattern of being office based, but these tips will help you on a daily basis.

    It’s World Mental Health Day next month, a time when people reflect more on their mental status. Even if it’s just for one day, it helps to slow down and view the issues that may be affecting you more than you know.

    It’s also a day to become aware of others around you. Take time to think differently about that person who you pass who would normally say hello or smile in acknowledgement but doesn’t on this occasion. Is s/he occupied with something else, or perhaps just running late and is focused on that?

    Life’s incredibly busy for everyone and affects people differently. A person may just be too mentally occupied to acknowledge you as you pass so try to see things from the other person’s perspective.

    There are lots of useful tools to help individuals cope with just the everyday stresses, some of which are easily accessible such as just going out for a walk however brief, it helps you mentally.

    Creating a daily task list is another coping mechanism and helps garner all the outstanding issues into one place. By capturing it in a list, it makes a person feel better and in control or perhaps create an electronic list on your phone, as and when you remember something.

    World Mental Health Day is about being supportive and understanding to others, as well as being a bit introspective and reflecting on the things that may be adding to your stress levels and then make a plan for dealing productively with it.

    In a recent survey by LBC, the radio station, which through the Freedom of Information Act has discovered there is a greater shortfall of children receiving help for mental health issues to those that are fortunate to be able to receive some vital support. https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/lbc-investigation-childrens-mental-health-support-plummets-during-pandemic/

    It is widely accepted that during this year long pandemic which on the 29th January 2020, saw the first death from COVID-19, that it has impacted all our lives in terms of travel restrictions, job losses, meeting up with friends and family or working from home which in turn has affected many people’s mental health.

    Mental health issues manifest in differing ways such as people feeling isolated and lonely or it may be that a person’s got a shorter temper which can be signs to look out for in your family and friends.

    Today is Time to Talk Day and so perhaps you’re feeling fine but have a think about those close to you and reach out to them. It could be as simple as a short text asking about how they’re feeling. You never know, maybe someone will send you a message or ring, as they may be thinking about you.

    It’s good to know someone’s there.

    Working at homeDuring this lockdown, it’s easy to become inactive and sit longer than you would ever normally do, some may even think there’s no point in getting dressed but inertia is no good for mind, the soul nor the body.

    But what to do? Well this is a real opportunity to tackle those things that when you’re working you simply don’t have the time nor in all likelihood, the energy to get stuck into, for example having a good clear out of all your filing and paper work.

    Who doesn’t have a dumping drawer or a space under the sink with lots of useless items that have never seen the light of day in years or has ever been used? Get your bin bags and load it all up.

    Getting up and getting ready to face the day is extremely important and getting fresh air too. A walk round the block or if you have a garden, tackle it. A lot of garden centres are doing online deliveries so have a look on the internet and if you don’t have a garden, then think about window boxes.

    Moving is so important for your body to help the blood circulate, to get your muscles moving and there’s a lot a person can do just at home. Start doing stretches on the floor and loosening up, if you feel fit enough, run up and down the stairs. If you live in a block of flats, use the stairs and not the elevator or jog on the spot in your living room to music.

    You could even create a daily workout but just get moving.

    Working at homeMost of us regularly work from home for say, one day per week, so we can cope and are used to that. However, in these unprecedented times, for a lot of us working from home is now five days a week, this certainly puts the onus on each of us to stay motivated and focused. Here are some tips which may help give you a steer:-

    Get dressed and avoid the temptation to work in your PJs. You’ll feel more motivated to work and where possible, create a work space which’ll mean it doesn’t feel like the rest of your house.

    Set yourselves daily targets and this’ll also help you to prioritise better. Having a list also gives you the satisfaction of ticking off your achievements which is very gratifying.

    You will have enhanced autonomy, this is wonderful opportunity for each of us to demonstrate we can be self-starters, as well as looking strategically at your role and how processes can be improved or cost savings made, or maybe identifying areas which are not being developed.

    It’s important to keep connected with your colleagues. Set up regular virtual meetings and allow time for a bit of chit-chat which helps keep connections between each of us.

    On a final note, just think that whilst your heating bill may increase a bit, you’ll be saving on fuel, wear and tear on your vehicle, and no lost time in your daily commute. There are some real positives.

  • Case Studies

    A selection of case studies from candidates who have attended ALSG Obstetric courses.

                           

    Marijke Van Eerd tells us what it's like as an ALSG volunteer. Read more here

             



  •  News
  • Vacancies

    We are seeking a new Trustee with a medical education background to work with the Chair, other Board members and staff in helping us to continue our journey and achieve our important and impactful strategic objectives. As our new CEO, Sinead Kay takes on the leadership role, we are looking to bolster our Trustee board with a specialist in education to support our ambition to continue to save lives and ensure that patients, education and learning are at the heart of all that we do.

    Our new Trustee will bring senior level experience and first time Trustees will be considered and supported if appointed. We are interested in hearing from potential Trustees with experience in medical education.

    If you would like to join us on our journey, please click here to go to our online form where you can find out more about ALSG and also the role of a Trustee before deciding if you would like to go ahead and apply.

    For an informal, confidential discussion about the role, please contact Sinead Kay, CEO by email skay@alsg.org.

    Closing date for applications is the 29th July 2022

    As the complexity of patients presenting to hospital continues to increase, our Acute Medical Emergencies (MedicALS) course requires the skills and knowledge of specialty clinicians to continue to develop the programme. The course enables candidates to gain the training and experience required to confidently deal with the acutely unwell medical patient.

    We are seeking volunteers to join the MedicALS Working Group to help support the ongoing development of the course and its accompanying materials. If you would like to apply to join the group, please click here to apply.

    The Scottish (North-West Highland-based), international medical charity Maternal & Childhealth Advocacy International (known as MCAI) is looking for an experienced data analyst to help MCAI on a long-term basis with our important Monitoring and Evaluation work for our life-saving programs in Liberia, West Africa. For more information about MCAI and our work, please see http://www.mcai.org.uk.

    For further information and role specification, please click here

  • Thought Leadership

    There have been various articles and social media comments about the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ when working from home. It really comes down to each company or NHS organisation’s attitude as well as their individual approach to the practicalities. Click here for more...

    Sue Wieteska, CEO of Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) comments on the recent announcement by the government to change pensions to be more flexible. 

    “With a lot of consultants leaving or reducing their hours due to the Tapered Annual Allowance which can affect their pension contributions and sees some facing increased tax bills, it is excellent news that the government has listened to the British Medical Association (BMA) www.bma.org.uk/ who have been at the forefront of highlighting the issues.

    “The government is putting out a consultation paper which I welcome with open arms however, shouldn’t the whole health sector be reviewed and be included in this new flexible approach which is expected to be implemented? What about dentists? What about nurses and other medical professionals?

    “Easing rules is an excellent idea to keep people in the profession for as long as possible but surely it shouldn’t just be aimed at high earners only, and shouldn’t the government take a consistent approach?"

    Read the article here

    In Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced last year at her party conference that student nurses would have a bursary of £8,100pa rising to £10,000 in 2020. Click here for the full article

    Sue Wieteska, CEO of Advanced Life Support Group, said:  

    “Scotland is taking an important step with this decision, as it is clear there’s a direct correlation between being supported with funding which is the case in Scotland for student nurses, and the rise in recruitment.   

    “Other Governments could learn this easy lesson if it recognises the need to increase nurses entering the profession, as well as the retention of staff, it must ensure a portion of funding is ring-fenced for training. 

    “At ALSG, an organisation which has been at the forefront of training doctors, nurses and other clinicians for now more than 25 years, I have anecdotal evidence that the profession simply doesn’t feel financially supported.   

    “This is by no means empirical evidence but it does gives a real insight into the monetary struggle nurses in particular find to revalidate.  Isn’t it time to literally ‘put your money where your mouth is’?”


    Sue Wieteska, CEO of Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) commented on the news report from ITV News in research undertaken by NHS England and NHS Improvement. The findings has cited admissions to emergency hospitals are from residents in care homes. 

    Sue said: “The statistic of 41% suggests these admissions could be significantly reduced as some conditions don’t necessarily require hospital admission and care homes need support to achieve this.

    “Interestingly, ALSG and the Manchester Triage Group working with NWAS (North West Ambulance Services) has adapted its world recognised Manchester Triage Tool, to purposely fit and match requirements specific to care homes which is called Nursing and Triage Tool (NaRT).

    “Since NaRT’s implementation in more than 200 homes in the North West of England, we have seen significant reductions of transfers to EDs from care homes which is not only good news for hospitals relieving pressure on resources but great news for residents who prefer to remain in their own environment and familiar surroundings.” 

    Read the news report here

      

    Sue Wieteska, CEO for Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) comments on the benefits of undertaking a research bursary.

    “Bursaries are imperative to the progression of a specific field and this is particularly vital to healthcare. Undertaking research delivers evidence and new strategies to clinical approaches whilst advancing specialty areas.

    Involving health care staff is also necessary in any research as this improves standards as well as engaging clinicians who have day-to-day experience and knowledge within the health sector and it would be imprudent to overlook their contribution.