17th October 2013 was a big day for Onclick – an important project that we are very proud of went live
Twelve months ago the Older Adult Mental Health and Dementia Clinical Academic Group (CAG) of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, wanted to set up a national online Dementia Training Centre for healthcare professionals.
Is there anybody who doesn’t fear dementia? For ourselves, for those we love? So when Onclick was invited to help spread knowledge and expertise about how best to deal with dementia, we jumped at the chance. Our extensive experience of working with physical and mental health topics meant that were we ideally placed to partner the CAG in this exciting venture.
Where did we begin?
Our starting point was to develop an e-learning course, called “Evidence based management of non-cognitive symptoms of dementia”, in other words we were going to look at all the psychotic, mood and behavioural symptoms associated with dementia, and the empirical evidence for the best ways of treating these episodes.
Also needed was a website to present a strong identity for the new Dementia Training Centre where the CAG could showcase their work, staff, courses and events. Teamed with this would be an integrated learning management system (LMS) to host courses and other services.
So while members of the CAG began the major task of compiling and organising material for the course, Onclick began developing branding and styling for the Dementia Training Centre, to run through into the course itself. Knowing that this project would grow, change and develop over time, we wanted to use a versatile tool that would allow us to easily update and adapt content, as well as give free rein to creative approaches to graphic content, and navigation. Because of the academic nature of the course, we knew that the content had to be layered so that the learner could dig deeper into topic content if required. Fully referencing all the content was vitally important: we had to devise a means of listing and, in some cases, linking to documents and URLs for each screen of the course. We needed a printable notepad that would run throughout each module. As the content was complex, the navigation through each module had to be very clear – so we needed a well-designed menu system.
We also knew that, because of the academic nature of the course, we had to avoid the content being dry and uninteresting. Graphics, cases studies, interactions, photography and video, as tools to bring the material to life, were going to be key to the success of the project.
Equally important, we needed the LMS to be versatile and allow us to be academically rigorous. Moodle offered us both, and we chose Flash with XML data initially as the development tools for the course.
Getting deeply involved
From the start, the team working on the project really gelled. The design style for the website and the course were soon agreed and once we were able to show how content would be presented, the subject expert authors had a clear idea of what to aim for.
All our CAG authors were juggling work on the project with their “day jobs” as healthcare professionals caring for service users. We, at Onclick, were aware how demanding this work is, and that we had to be flexible in our approach to content gathering, authoring, instructional design and storyboarding. In fact, before long so much content was gathered that we all realised 2 courses were required:
- Working with people with non-cognitive symptoms of dementia – about providing insight in to the knowledge and skills required to deliver safe and effective care for people experiencing these symptoms.
- Pharmacological inventions for non-cognitive symptoms of dementia –
giving essential knowledge about prescribing psychotropic drugs to people experiencing these symptoms.
We also set about filming whenever an opportunity arose. Two conferences took place giving us an opportunity to gather material by filming engaging speakers, and question and answer sessions. In addition, a particularly effective and poignant shoot took place where members of staff acted out situations where in-patients may become distressed, while others played themselves dealing with this distress in effective ways.
We could hardly believe how authentic this shoot felt – the Onclick crew were moved to tears. All the shoots have provided essential resources for the e-learning courses, but are also useful general resources for the CAG in delivering conferences and face to face training.
What is next?
As the project got underway, the courses were built, peer reviewed and signed off, more ideas came forward:
“Could we do a course on the concept of Recovery?” Yes – and it is now well underway.
“We need a course specifically for care home workers, will you be involved?” Yes – we meet about this shortly.
Perhaps the most innovative offshoot of the main project, is the interactive online Care Pathway project for the Older Adult Mental Health and Dementia Clinical Academic Group. It will present the processes of referral, triage, assessment and interventions for a range of mental health conditions affecting older adults, including dementia. This will sit on the South London and Maudsley’s main website, and will also be mobile and tablet friendly.
Look forward to a blog about this major project soon.