The comedian Ben Elton used to talk about the reality gap – the difference between what you envisage something will be like and what actually happens – and this has been my experience of being part of the Q community so far. I joined Q after my wife sent me the joining link knowing I was looking for a new challenge. I applied largely looking to link with enthusiasts after starting to feel a bit isolated in my work as a GP in Cornwall.
To date, though it has made some made impact, I must admit that joining Q has not had the invigorating effect on my work that I had hoped. I recognise that this is partly down to me and is open to improvement. Without going part-time it is hard to find time in the day, and the evenings are generally given over to recovery time and family – something that many other Q members I’m sure can relate to.
What’s been helpful?
I’ve been a member since early 2017. I’ve attended events – including a joining event in Exeter, a regional meeting in Taunton and the 2017 national event in Liverpool where I presented a pecha kucha on health inequalities. I went on a Q visit to the NHS blood bank near Bristol in June of this year. I spoke to a number of interesting people enthusiastic about their work, and I’ve had some follow-up email conversations.
What could be better?
I’ve used the Q website to search for local members to meet but unfortunately numbers near me are low and my invitations went unanswered.
Threads in the SIGs that I joined showed interesting work being pursued on the GP and co-production streams, however, they often featured Zoom calls without any linked IT advice or occurring during business hours that I could never guarantee being free for. As a GP I have no protected time in the week apart from 2-3 pm on a Wednesdays when I am getting ready for the school run!
Posts on the sites did not generally result in a response. I engaged with some randomised coffee trials but latterly have had to abandon them for the same reason. One I had to cancel just as an urgent visit request was phoned through. After attending the national event I had a real go at twitter but the amount of information was slightly overwhelming and I couldn’t engage in a meaningful way.
This has led to a slight sense of detachment from the movement which feels like a result of my basic IT skills, my geography, the dense and unpredictable nature of my work. It’s also down to the attitude of my partnership, where I have tried to introduce Health Foundation principles to enable quality improvement work but find very little support among my peers – which comes full circle to why I joined Q in the first place.
So how can we get the best out of the community, knowing that we have limited time and other commitments?
If I had to make any recommendations they might be:
- Check preferred communication method with all new members – email feeds have the advantage of being accessible at any time. If Twitter or Zoom is mandatory for the best results, offer training links on the website.
- Advice on the best way to call small local meetings would be welcome, including scrupulous updating of the Q member map for this purpose.
- Consider a mentoring scheme linking new members to more established ones as they find their feet.
- Encourage each new member to consider an achievable but relevant project in their first year as a way of introducing how best to use connectivity and the undoubted resources that Q offers.
I’d be keen to hear from other members who have experienced something similar and have some advice on how they’ve overcome this. In recent weeks I have started deleting emails from Q on arrival feeling that I am unlikely to be able to take part or respond in a meaningful way but recognise this is too negative and will start at least to look at them afresh. I am reminded of the biblical parable of the grains of corn and hope that in time I may become more fruitful rather than risk withering away after an initial spurt of enthusiasm.