Managing long term health conditions in the NHS: how our work with COPD is driving quality and cost improvements

By Sophie Byrne

15 million people in the UK have at least one long-term condition (LTC) and they already account for 80% of GP consultation time and 60% of hospital bed days — if you stop and think for a second, these are mind-blowing figures. So it is not surprising to hear Sir John Oldham, the clinical lead for productivity in the NHS, pointing out how healthcare costs are determined by LTCs, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Oldham recognised this presents the NHS with immense challenges, he also emphasised the potential for increasing quality of care and driving down costs by managing LTCs better. His point being, most LTCs can be well-managed through changes to lifestyle, patient education and empowerment. Therefore working with people to manage their condition could help reduce demand on scarce NHS resource.

At Innovation Unit we couldn’t agree more with this analysis. We also think that the best way to do this involves self-management, enabled by education and support tools for patients. This would truly empower users to manage their LTC and make a reality of co-production. (more…)

May 3, 2011 at 10:13 am 1 comment

Learning Futures guest blog post: Accountability

Guest blog post by Martin Said, Teacher at Cramlington Learning Village

Its funny how many times the point of accountability has come up over the last couple of days on my return to school (from High Tech High in San Diego) in the run up to coursework deadlines.

I think I work in a great school which does a tremendous job in taking a comprehensive intake and helping them to be better and more independent thinkers and learners, yet I still perceive a shift in emphasis from the beginning of my short career.

It may be the “rose tinted glasses effect” but it seems that the locus of accountability in quality assurance has moved further from the student towards the teacher. Coursework (seems funny using that word in the new spec vista) was the responsibility of the student to hand in on time to a good standard, now it feels like it is the teachers’ responsibility to get coursework from students. This is not a specific observation to my school but from conversations with colleagues in other schools also.

What is the determining factor here? I don’t know is the honest answer. League tables maybe and pressure upon teachers to meet targets (self imposed or otherwise), and I’m sure that students recognise this. Kids are canny.

Anyway, what struck me about accountability in HTH was one instance where a girl had not completed her engineering project but was still expected to stand by her empty table in exhibition and of course every visiting member of community asked the same question: “Where is your project?”

What a powerful thing to have to describe the mistakes you made, a real learning experience and extremely formative!

I asked the question many times at HTH, “What would you do if you didn’t have Carte Blanche?” and the first response was invariably “Get carte blanche”.

A reframing of the question to “If you could change just one thing in the inherent system…” yielded similarly homogenous responses:

“Start with public exhibition.”

Oh and DTPF!

(Do the project first)

May 3, 2011 at 9:21 am Leave a comment

Alec’s three-slide presentation for the PurposEd summit for instigators #purposedpsi

by Alec Patton

I spent Saturday afternoon at the PurposEd Summit for Instigators on Saturday. This is the presentation I put together for it. Enjoy!

May 2, 2011 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Nearly-live blogging from #purposedpsi – growing enquiry through the cracks in the pavement

by Alec Patton

At my table (@pjjames, @LizRich, @IanYorkston, @Darney-ictteach, @Nikable) we’re talking about the environment and preoccupations of schools, and how to grow a space for a rich environment for education within a standards-driven, stressed institution.

Here’s some (rather loosely transcribed) quotes from the table: (more…)

April 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm 1 comment

Internocracy and unpaid interns

By Raj Cheema

Great to see Internocracy in the Guardian today talking about the unfairness of unpaid interns – backed by its latest research. The research, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Internocracy – a social enterprise that develops work experience schemes for employers – found that 17% of UK businesses had taken on interns to use as a cheap source of labour, while 95% of the 218 UK managers who responded agreed that interns were “useful to their organisation”. The Internocracy study also found that only 12% of company managers and 10% of young people knew unpaid internships could be illegal under employment law.

Internocracy attended our Beyond Worklessness: A Festival of Ideas event last year and spoke about their ‘Proper Jobs Clubs’ programme of work which aims to set up clubs for unemployed young people to vent their frustrations and anxieties and get advice, information and guidance from their peers who have successfully obtained employement or set up their own businesses. If you want to learn more about this work, then check out the video below.

April 28, 2011 at 10:31 am 1 comment

What Masterchef can tell us about Project-based Learning

by Alec Patton

My partner and I don’t own a television, so we tend to watch programmes in iplayer-enabled week-long marathons. This week we’re catching up on Masterchef. As it happens, I’m also hard at work on the guide to enquiry- and project-based learning Learning Futures is creating with High Tech High. This means I bring a very particular perspective to the much-loved competitive cooking show, and within it, I’ve found four lessons for project-based learning: (more…)

April 28, 2011 at 7:30 am 2 comments

The World’s Most Innovative Schools: Bugrado Edutrade

by Alec Patton

This South African programme is probably better described as an ‘innovative after-school programme’ than an ‘innovative school’, but I still think it warrants a mention here, because it’s fascinating and inspiring (my two basic criteria for this list):

Founded by Ashoka Fellow Flick Asvat, a former refugee, the Bugrado Edutrade process begins with a volunteer team consisting primarily of unemployed graduates and tertiary-education students, who identify young people with leadership potential and trains them as mentors.

The mentors then identify a particular ability that they possess – whether in dancing, mathematics, football, singing, drawing, or anything else – and find young people who want to learn from them, creating their own  “after-school programmes”. The organising principle is the skill they are teaching, but the mentors also play a pastoral role for their “buddies”. The “buddies” go on to become mentors themselves, creating their own groups and thus scaling up the Bugrado concept.

After Bugrado’s first year, children as young as five years old were teaching younger children. Children were also developing their own programs, promoting themselves to the community and doing their own fundraising. Frankly, this weirds me out at the same time as it seems cool, because mentoring seems like possibly not the best use of a five-year-olds time. I guess one needs to examine it in context of what else local five year olds are doing (and I’m afraid I don’t know what they’re doing, so my expertise has run out for this week).

Read More

Flick Asvat’s Ashoka Fellow profile

April 27, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Top tips and insights for public service prototyping

By Aviv Katz

In recent months we’ve been working alongside service designers at Think Public, Nonon and Sidekick Studios on projects that involve prototyping of public services. Additionally, NESTA have commissioned us to write a report on how, why and when prototyping is relevant to the work of local authorities (to be published in June, we are told). We have spoken to lots of designers and managers, observed them in action, read some professional literature, drew some fancy diagrams and wrote lots of words.
Here are some top tips and insights:

  1. Engage the right people in prototyping: those ‘running’ the prototype (design team) should be confident and skilled in mocking up ideas into something real that can be tested, those ‘using’ the prototype (users) should represent the real user group not necessarily your friends and colleagues, and those observing the action (observers) should be stakeholders who need to enhance their understanding of the project or service.
  2. Not all prototypes were created equal. There are two main types of prototyping: exploratory (done in early stages of insight and idea generation) and developmental (done after the service has been specified and you know what you’re designing). The former is quick and cheap; the latter requires more planning.
  3. Prototyping is different to piloting. A pilot is the real thing, limited in scope, environment or timescale. A prototype is usually a simulation of the real thing. Prototypes are used to stimulate creative thinking, identify failure and coalesce partnerships while pilots are usually more expensive and rigorous testing grounds that are used as a launch-pad for taking to market.
  4. Anyone can prototype, but not everyone can prototype well. To be effective prototypes should simulate the end-product or service as closely as possible. This can require a degree of skill. But more importantly, prototypes require an experimental and playful mindset leaders should value and foster.#

Incidentally, the Economist published a nice piece on a related issue – the value of failing early and often – unsurprisingly, organisations and individuals who embrace failure manage to do this through prototyping.

April 27, 2011 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Household innovations: Putting your money where your milk is

 By Leonie Shanks

I have a theory that it was my parents who first came up with the phrase ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.’ Not content with being compost and allotment aficionados (long before composts and allotments were in vogue), they have always taken a slightly fanatical approach to environmentally friendly living. Not going to throw that empty yoghurt pot away are you? Why not use it instead for storing paper clips and drawing pins? No need to buy gift tags for the Christmas presents – that would just be reckless extravagance, when you can cut up last year’s Christmas cards instead. I recall a particularly unpleasant episode when, at the age of seven, my Mum sent me to school with 25 used milk cartons brimming with jelly beans and liquorice allsorts and decorated with old wallpaper (message to Alec Patton: some households DO contain ubiquitous milk cartons!). Proudly flourishing these gifts as evidence of my Mum’s superiority to the other Mums, I was dismayed to find that most of my classmates refused to eat the sweets on the grounds that the containers still bore the distinctive whiff of sour milk, and I gained a set of unwanted nicknames that day that I was unable to shake off until secondary school.

It was perhaps due to my subliminal memories of this unfortunate incident that I was so delighted to discover a fantastic alternative to the plastic milk bottle or cardboard carton sitting in my parents’ fridge this Easter. (more…)

April 27, 2011 at 1:35 am 4 comments

Family Values: Coed Eva primary gets parents involved in education

by Alec Patton

One of the most important things we’ve learned from Learning Futures is that a school can only go so far without engaging the community within which it sits – especially parents. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that schools are not the only (or necessarily even the most important) place where kids go to learn (the corollary is that teachers are not the only adults that kids learn from). Thus, schools ignore these other locations for learning at their peril.

This is easy to say, and much harder to do in practice, so I was pleased to read an article by Meabh Ritchie in the TES about Coed Eva, a primary school in Wales that’s developed a ‘family values’ programme. Here’s how it works (quoted from the article): (more…)

April 26, 2011 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

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