Partnering with the Flow Coaching Academy to develop a new multidisciplinary team

In 2022, the Parkinson’s Excellence Network partnered with Flow Coaching Academy to support 6 services across the UK to set up a multidisciplinary team. Two participants, Lynda and Louise, tell us about their experience and what they learnt.

Lynda Poole is Service Improvement Adviser at Parkinson’s UK and Louise Stewart is Team Lead Physiotherapist at NHS Tayside. They took part in the Flow Coaching Academy’s course in 2022, so we've asked them to share what they learnt on the 12-month course and explain how it's helped improve access to multidisciplinary care in Perth hospital.

What is the Flow Coaching Academy?

Lynda: "The Flow Coaching Academy (FCA) exists to enable staff in every healthcare organisation to continuously improve patient care and experience. Built from within the NHS, for professionals working in the NHS, the Flow Coaching Academy’s methodology is fast becoming a national movement harnessing the energy and ideas of staff at all levels to create positive change."

How did you get involved in the project?

Louise: "I was approached by our Parkinson’s nurse, Lorna, to see if I would be interested in applying for the course. I think I was a little ignorant of exactly what it was, but the promise of dedicated time to work on setting up an multidisciplinary team (MDT) was the pull for me. My manager was supportive and gave me extra hours weekly to dedicate to the course."

What did the course involve?

Lynda: "I signed up to be Louise’s Flow Coach. We took part in roughly one day of online seminars per month, as well as completing a suite of e-learning over a 12 month period. There was a lot to learn but it was a very well organised course and the tutors were excellent."

Louise: "The e-learning was daunting when you first looked at it as a whole but I found that once I broke it down, it was manageable and it went hand in hand with the FCA teaching days."

What did the Flow Coaching teaching days look like?

Lynda: "We were introduced right away to the concept of the ‘Big Room’ which is the foundation of the FCA methodology. It is a regular, coached meeting where people come together to build relationships, collaborate and develop a shared purpose for improvement.

“I was impressed by the democratic nature of the meeting, with all stakeholders being given the opportunity to be involved. There was a clear effort made to ‘flatten the hierarchy’ so attendees felt that it is a safe place to share."

Louise: "The meetings gathered momentum, and everyone was enthusiastic with good attendance and participation. It was initially challenging to get anyone from the occupational therapy service involved, but then we ended up with two brilliant occupational therapists participating which has been a great success!"

What did you enjoy most about the course?

Lynda: "The course covered a huge range of quality improvement tools and coaching skills but amongst those that we tried, my favourites were the simple ‘Love and Nuts’ which is basically a matter of giving out post-it notes and getting people to share the things that they find work well and those which don’t.

"I also really liked the driver diagram which helps sort all the feedback into discrete work streams which have measurable and achievable outcomes, directly related to the main aim of the work."

Louise: "We also tried mapping communication. This was simple to do but a revelation and absolutely vital when working on the results to improve the effectiveness of our embryonic MDT. The data collection work was a bit of a struggle as my knowledge was not great, but in the end, we got there!"

What were the outcomes of the project?

Lynda: Well the big one is that the new MDT is happening in Perth hospital!"

Louise: "Yes! Our pilot was a success and we received really good feedback from our patients and staff. We will launch the second pilot at the end of this month, and then the MDT will properly start in October. Everyone diagnosed with Parkinson’s at Perth hospital will be invited to a full MDT within a month of diagnosis.

"Participating in the FCA course also helped me a great deal, both personally and professionally, and it gave a big sense of achievement to all those involved in the MDT."

Lynda: "I am so impressed at the commitment and dedication of the team at Perth. It's been an absolute pleasure working with Louise, her 'can do ‘attitude and positivity is a huge inspiration!"

Our vision for multidisciplinary care

People with Parkinson’s should be able to access the right care from the right expert professionals at the right time, no matter who they are or where in the UK they live. 

You can find out more about our vision for multidisciplinary care on our national priority programmes page.