What Outreach Means at Pennine Care by Lucy Anderson

Outreach means many different things to different services and people. At Pennine Care we use the term generally as a way of saying we are proactive in getting our services out to people, whether by email or in person.

It is extremely important for Pennine Care to ‘outreach’ as we are a service with no physical library, yet we serve 5000+ people in over 100 locations across six boroughs in Greater Manchester.

In 2014 we recruited an Outreach Specialist, Bruce, who works with us for two days a week. He is highly experienced in information retrieval and has worked for many years as a Librarian, supporting healthcare professionals. These two days focus on getting ‘a person’ out to promote the Knowledge Service across the Trust. Within our trust, the most obvious way to promote services is by attending induction in the form of a market place stall. Due to time restraints, we were unable to make a presentation at induction, although our marketing outcomes were much improved once we’d established our own separate stall rather than sharing one with Organisational Development as was initially the case before Bruce started working with us. Bruce follows up this initial contact with an email after a few months to act as a reminder once new staff have had more time to settle in.

Another outreach method is for Bruce to base himself at an administrative base or health centre for a day a week for a month or two. We have heard various stories about this in other trusts and some haven’t been too favourable. BUT we decided to give it a go anyway as we felt it was worth pursuing, given the wide geographical spread of the Trust.

Key to this was in choosing the base location: Bruce chose the bases carefully. We needed a place from where he could work and where there was enough staff to make it worthwhile. The simplest way to do this was to use the team’s collective knowledge of locations within the Trust, search the staff directory to see how many potential staff members were based there and then contact the building manager or a senior member of staff to find out who had control of desk space and if anyone held email distribution lists.

By having an up to date laptop when he is based at another Trust site, Bruce is able to able to carry out his computer-based work in much the same way as he would when he is in the office at HQ. In fact he tells me that the lack of immediate distractions helps his productivity. Bruce makes sure that everyone is made aware when he is based at the site with emails that also provide tips and guides about getting evidence and information.

So far Bruce has ‘outreached’ at six of the larger sites in the Trust covering all but one of the boroughs. Here are some examples:

  • In the HMR (Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale) borough Bruce chose Callaghan House, an administrative base for rehabilitation and children’s teams in Heywood. In his eight days there he generated sixteen outcomes. These included: searches; a journal club enquiry; two introductory team presentations; book requests; discussions about journal titles; and information training sessions.
  • The four days Bruce spent at Ellen House, one of the main administration sites for Oldham, resulted in five outcomes and included one introductory presentation and one-to-one training sessions.
  • Bruce spent six days working at Nye Bevan, one of our main bases in Rochdale. This resulted in eight contacts including two searches and five people trained.
  • At The Meadows, an older persons’ rehabilitation unit in Stockport, Bruce spent 4 days there resulting in 13 contacts, including training five people.

At each site Bruce ensures that a Knowledge Service publicity notice is on the main notice boards and also that a supply of Knowledge Service leaflets is supplied. In several instances requests for our services which have been prompted by Bruce’s visits have occurred after Bruce has left the site.

This site based service has also been complemented by Bruce working at our training bases on days when mandatory training takes place, when possible. He has completed five of these in the past few months resulting in fifty-seven contacts with staff, in our eyes a significant promotion of the service. He continues to find that a large number of staff are either not already aware of the Knowledge Service at all, or are not aware of what the service offers.

All this, together with general publicity and promotions has helped us to steadily increase our staff’s use of information resources and we recently passed 1000 Athens registrations.

Lucy Anderson BA (Hons) MCLIP
Knowledge Specialist: Outreach and Liaison
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

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