A summer of Excellence Network virtual meetings: professionals come together virtually to network, learn and share experiences from the pandemic

Summer 2021 has been an exciting time across the Excellence Network as we welcomed the return of 3 Excellence Network regional meetings, all taking place virtually for the first time. 

A total of 150 healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines joined their fellow local Excellence Network colleagues online for an afternoon of networking, learning and sharing experiences from the last year.

Starting in the South East

The South East Local Parkinson’s Excellence Network meeting on Tuesday 15 June, saw 60 healthcare professionals and people with Parkinson’s join local leads, Iain Wilkinson and Claire Addison, for a jam-packed afternoon. Delegates heard from a range of clinicians sharing their experiences from around Kent, Surrey and Sussex from the past year. They also broke out into small groups and used virtual whiteboards to discuss their key challenges, changes and positives from the last year. 

Feedback from the event was extremely positive, with a delegate commenting: “All the content was perfect for me. I am a new Parkinson's nurse specialist, so it was just enough information.”

Watch the South East Local Parkinson's Excellence Network meeting here

 

Virtual learning and discussions in Thames Valley

Two weeks later on Tuesday 29 June, 31 professionals joined local lead Jo Bromley for the Thames Valley Local Parkinson's Excellence Network virtual meeting. Delegates heard from Dr Apu Chatterjee and Dr Maha Khwaja from The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust about the Parkinson’s advanced care plan project they are running in Reading. A talk from their colleague Carrie James, Nurse Consultant in Neurology on end of life care for people with Parkinson’s came next. 

Watch the Thames Valley Local Parkinson's Excellence Network meeting here

 

Finishing in the West Midlands

Rounding off the virtual meeting hat trick was the West Midlands Local Parkinson’s Excellence Network, who welcomed 63 professionals from across the region on Thursday 8 July.

Led by local leads Dr Shams Duja and Dr Alistair Lewthwaite, delegates heard first from Julia Cook, Lead Psychologist for Interventions in Dementia at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust on cognition in Parkinson’s and neuropsychological interventions. Then Occupational Therapist and Director of Box Positive, Charles Delve talked about the evidence base informing the benefits of boxing for people with Parkinson’s.

Reflecting on the event, a delegate said: “Great programme. Really enjoyed the psychology and boxing aspects related to Parkinson’s.” 

Watch the West Midlands Local Parkinson's Excellence Network meeting here

 

Using interactive tools to network virtually

Across all 3 meetings, there were noticeable similarities and overlaps in the experiences shared and topics covered. For example, the use of virtual consultations was a key point of discussion, with delegates using virtual meeting features such as breakout rooms and online whiteboards to share their experiences and thoughts. 

“Breakout rooms were an excellent idea. Really great way to network and share ideas.” - Delegate from the Thames Valley Excellence Network meeting 

The plan going forward and future virtual meetings

Feedback from these virtual meetings has been extremely positive, with many attendees identifying several benefits of coming together online, such as saving time and cost on travel, and being able to watch the meeting back later. 

One delegate said: “For shorter sessions virtual meetings work well. But now and again an in-person meeting would be good to make networking easier.” 

We hope to deliver in-person meetings next year, but for now as restrictions lift, the Excellence Network will continue to work with Excellence Network local leads to plan and deliver local meetings virtually, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming meetings.

Health and care professionals working in Scotland can join the Scotland-wide Excellence Network virtual meeting on Thursday 30 September, while colleagues in the East of England can book their place at the East of England Local Parkinson’s Excellence Network virtual meeting on Wednesday 6 October.

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