On the 6th February 2009, NHS Education for Scotland and IRISS hosted a consultation event called Sharing Knowledge, Improving Practice, Changing Lives, to gather views, stimulate discussion and support development of a knowledge management strategy and action plan for Scotland’s social services.
Well, we're fairly interested in knowledge management, but we're quite a dispersed organization of services right up in the north of Scotland, from Thurso all the way down to Stranraer. We're part-time workers, so sharing experiences and information, expertise and knowledge, is quite an important part of what we do or what we're trying to do.
I think the knowledge management strategy and development of the strategy is very important. I think it links into a lot of other aspects of the social services that I'm quite involved in, including learning and development. And I think it's got a critical part and role to play as far as freeing-up access for all staff, importantly in the front lines, where they can access information knowledge and really encourage evidence-based practice.
I think also importantly, we've got a lot of the service users and carers in learning and development. I think it's important that the service users and carers are able to access the resources that hopefully will become available through the development office strategy.
I read the document that Susan wrote, and it's really inspirational in terms of what we want out of it, and that's great. There are a couple of areas that would be good to add, in terms of accessibility, because we are keen to promote that as well. It's good that we have it, but it needs to be accessible to everybody as well, so sustainability and accessibility. So, I'm keen to look at then how we take that forward.
To be part of that consultation process is really useful. It's not just coming to us as a policy that's made and here's what you're getting, it's, "What do you think you need? Tell us what it is you need, and how you can contribute to that." So that's what we wanted, to get a bit more out of that and also to meet other people who are very much involved in it from other agencies.
I'm hoping to bring myself up to speed in what's going on there. I've been out of practice for quite some time in dealing with students, as students leave and they go on into practice, of what we can provide to support students being evidence-based once they go out there. Can they use the systems? Do they know where to go for knowledge information? And, do they know that they have a responsibility to feed that knowledge back into the system?
One of the biggest things that's come out to me today, you know how sometimes you get a spark? We concluded - we were having a lot of discussion about what knowledge management is - and people find it quite an alienating term. And I said, "Well, actually what you're seeing is nobody knows nothing."
And I just thought that just actually almost sums up to me what this whole knowledge management thing is about. It's nobody knows nothing, we've all got something to contribute, we just have to find ways to actually do it. It is inclusive and it's not bureaucratic, it's just there and we just have to capture it.
Absolutely crucial, and I have to say that there's so much out there. What's happening is that we're all overwhelmed by it. It's not that people aren't communicating to us. They are. But it's just, "Right, that's good information, but I don't need it just now and I'll put it somewhere." And then, you don't know what you've done with it.
So it's absolutely crucial to get that into some kind of format that we can work with, make sense of, and get it out there. People are spending the time to develop it, we need to use it. It's a waste otherwise. So it's absolutely crucial.
It's absolutely crucial. I can remember times in my own practice where we were being led by people who had access knowledge when they qualified, and that was 20 years before then. So we have to be up to date, evidence-based. We have to show that if we are going to intervene in somebody's life, it's got a relatively good chance of success. And that means moving to measure what we do.
Critical, I mean, with the stuff that we're doing in terms of leadership and leadership communities. The social services workforce is such a huge, valuable resource, and it's not been effectively used. We're not making the right connections. People aren't sure we're sharing the stories of what works, what doesn't work. People don't have the time and space to actually free up what their ideas are. And we just need to actually get that organized and get that culture together.