As KNOWvember comes into view once more, here at Pennine Care we have been reflecting on our activities for 2022. The theme last year was breaking down the barriers to mobilising knowledge in the NHS. We used the Knowledge Management tool to examine those barriers and review what steps we could take to overcome them.

We were definitely agreed that there are substantial barriers to KM in the NHS. In fact, we wondered if the KM tool itself might be one of those barriers. It is a lengthy document. Participants have to be firmly committed to the KM process to participate in its application. Realistically, high level support is required to drive uptake. Simply based on the length of time required to complete the tool, there needs to be support from senior management to endorse participation.

However, that commitment may be the very quality we emphasise to promote uptake. It marks out the tool as a serious application. Yes, it requires some time commitment but that is what produces valuable results. It offers a formalised, manageable and measurable approach to KM. It enables the user to assess their current standing, and to make plans to improve that position.

For the Knowledge Service, the exercise was useful for identifying existing areas of good practice in KM and suggesting new ones. For example, we already keep a database of staff publications, which is widely shared through a quarterly bulletin. Recently, new members of the team suggested a systematic approach to offering alerts as a results of literature searches which is now part of our procedure. Knowledge Specialists attend events to facilitate linked Trust strategies and plans (for example AHP Workforce Plan, Suicide Prevention Strategy). We’ve provided links on the intranet to simplify access to resources that can now be IP-authenticated (for example the Royal Marsden Manual, the Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines). We’ve established groups in MS Teams to facilitate Communities of Practice. And we’re currently evaluating an initiative to embed Knowledge Specialists within the Trust’s specialist Research Units (Children and Young People; Learning Disabilities; and Older People).

Looking more widely across the Trust, we felt that colleagues were showing an interest in Knowledge Management that could lead to greater involvement. We directed one senior manager towards the KM Toolkit for evaluating the progress of a project. The manager was particularly pleased with the techniques for Learning During, declaring them “Brilliant”. We also noted a selection of initiatives on the intranet collected as the Learning Library, a “forum for sharing best practice and communicating how we learn”. Such indicators suggest that the Trust has the foundations for wider implementation of KM practices. The challenge is to build on those foundations.

Stephen Edwards, Pennine Care, Knowledge Specialist: Outreach
Rosalind McNally, Pennine Care, Knowledge Specialist: Liaison Lead