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Meet the New Member – Helen Sharma

Each month we'll be introducing you to a new Q member – this month Helen Sharma, Professional Adviser at Chartered Society of Physiotherapy tells us how she's applied learning from Q events in her day job.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your improvement journey.

I’ve been working in the NHS for 16 years as a physiotherapist. In my last clinical job – before I joined the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in September – all the projects we were working on within the department were quality improvement projects, however we weren’t really treating them as such and we weren’t following a framework. There was an opportunity to do a ‘Quality improvement for supervisors’ workshop at the trust with the quality improvement lead, so I went along to really learn how to supervise these projects in our department. This prompted me to start looking more into QI; I completed the Future Learn Quality Improvement in Healthcare online course. As a result of these two more formal learning experiences, I began thinking about what we were doing in the department, particularly how we could actually use more standardised methodology and measurement to make the most of the projects we were working on so that they were more productive and had clear outcomes that could be demonstrated to other people.

I’m working with change all the time but sometimes there’s a need to change your own methods and your own outlook, so I think that Q is really helpful from that perspective.

When I moved out of my clinical role in September, I began working for the professional body (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) as a professional adviser. Part of that role is supporting physiotherapists in quality improvement work in the workplace with more of a UK-wide remit, working with lots of different physiotherapists in all sectors. I support people through change, so all the formal learning I’d completed alongside the practical application of that learning within clinical practice enabled me to get that job and to continue to work with quality improvement from a different stand point.

What first attracted you to Q?

Almost as soon as I joined the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, I had some information given to me about the Q community. I had a look at what was on offer and I was pleased that it was really relevant in terms of my remit with physiotherapists UK-wide. A lot of the events on offer are to do with creating positive energy around change: in clinical practice, it’s hard to get people to a place where they’re feeling really positive about change because most of the time they see it as a threat or something being done to them rather than something that they can be involved in and that’s an opportunity to make things better in the long run. I felt like these events would give me more ideas about how to frame change in a clinical setting, and I really liked where Q was coming from in terms of the events on offer and the level it was pitched at, which led me to join the community.

What are you hoping to get out of Q?

I think I’ve already started to get quite a lot out of Q: I’ve attended three events (Joy in Work, Liberating Structures and Appreciative Inquiry) and I’ve managed to take away something from each of them, whether it’s a technique to use or just a different way of looking at things.

Recently, I ran an appreciative inquiry workshop with my team of professional advisers so that we could work on a particular change topic in a positive way. The challenge was around how we organise ourselves as a team to support physiotherapists nationwide to do a bit of organisational change, so I used appreciative inquiry with the team and it was really effective. I wouldn’t have thought to do it that way if I hadn’t had the opportunity to attend the workshop through Q.

Moving forwards, I’m hoping for continued prompts to look at things differently. I’m working with change all the time but sometimes there’s a need to change your own methods and your own outlook, so I think that Q is really helpful from that perspective.

With people that I’m looking to connect with, I think those who are working in organisations that I’m not so familiar with would be interesting for me. For example, my clinical job was working in an acute trust so I never really had contact with policy makers or commissioners, but actually in my current role I see that element is vital to creating widespread change. To start change at that level and to help me to understand how physiotherapists on the ground can influence those groups of people for change is really important. I’m also quite interested in peer to peer support – there are so many people at my level who have just stepped out of clinical and are looking to build their skills and knowledge.

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