Practical tips for virtual facilitation: Lessons from the Lancashire Next Generation GP team

Cooper-Moss, Nicola orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0527-6287, Poppleton, Aaron orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3435-6721, Caine, Kirstie, Boydell-Smith, Amy and Chauhan, Umesh orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0747-591X (2021) Practical tips for virtual facilitation: Lessons from the Lancashire Next Generation GP team. In: SAPC ASM 2021, 30 June - 1 July 2021, Leeds University (virtual). (Unpublished)

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The problem
Working in health and care against the backdrop of COVID-19 has led to significant changes in practice, priorities and people. There will no doubt be many lessons to emerge from this time over the coming months and years. Not least how the workforce, together with the community, came together (despite being physically distant) to respond with courage, creativity and a determination to adapt where possible. Here we share how the Next Generation GP Lancashire team adapted their approach, looked for the opportunities and embraced the learning to emerge from working virtually.
The approach
In March 2020, the Lancashire Next Generation GP team were in the process of organising physical events for a local leadership programme based on the existing national programme model. Following cancellation of the programme due to COVID-19, regular virtual meetings were held to explore how to work differently. An associate from the NHS North West Leadership Academy contributed to discussions exploring virtual facilitation, leadership approaches and community building. The learning to emerge has shaped the design and delivery of the first virtual Lancashire and Manchester Next Generation GP programme.
Several recommendations emerged from the discussions around the transition towards working virtually. Firstly, there was early recognition of transition points indicating when to work differently, which were openly communicated with participants. Secondly, the new context presented the opportunity to reflect on how to shape the new approach to design, including building on feedback on both local leadership and community needs. Following this, community principles were examined to reduce potential barriers to virtual engagement and detailed consideration was given to the transition from creating a virtual community space into relationship building. 90 participants were subsequently recruited to the virtual programme, which is currently ongoing. Feedback from participants will be available to share at the meeting.
The complex adaptive system environments in which we work require different approaches to leadership and facilitation at different points in time. These recommendations can be applied to establish a social learning architecture which optimises engagement and relationship building among virtual communities. Ten top tips will be presented in the meeting, which can be flexibly applied to develop shared leadership approaches and design of other educational programmes which are transitioning into virtual delivery.

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