Digitalising education to support student and staff learning

My Topol fellowship problem / project:

At the beginning of the pandemic, my working environment was unprepared for the enforced move to online teaching and working from home. Whilst the Recovery College team responded and adapted quickly (with great support from SLaM NHS Foundation Trusts’ digital services team) the pace of change meant not all options for technology, training needs and processes were able to be scoped and implemented. After an intense period of learning and testing things ‘in the field’ I recognise that there is need to improve our approach to digital health technology within this education setting. My curiosity is how to enable my team to deliver our core business (coproduced education for service users, carers and staff) in the physical classroom and online using technology that best suits the needs of our students and staff. I have learned a great deal in the past two years but can see problems that if solved, I believe would improve and enhance the way we offer and deliver our free, wellbeing education packages.

I am an occupational therapist by profession. I worked in learning disabilities whilst completing my degree and then in mental health since 2001. I am a New Zealander and began working in NHS mental health services in London in 2006 as a care coordinator and clinical team leader. Since 2014, I’ve been managing the team at SLaM Recovery College, part of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Recovery College’s have developed throughout the UK, in the NHS, social care and voluntary sector in the past decade, using coproduced education as a tool to support mental health and wellbeing and drive organisational change around the concept of recovery.

Recovery College’s employ people with lived experience of mental ill health and clinicians (or other people with work expertise) who coproduce and co-deliver workshops and courses to a diverse group of students, including service users, carers and staff of the mental health trust and partner organisations. The wellbeing focused education aims to complement the clinical services offered by the trust.