Year in Review

I write this on my second-to-last day as a trainee in Torquay. Reflecting on my time here, I cannot believe  how quick it’s all been and how much I’ve managed to learn in such a short time.

In my final weeks I’ve been working on our Summer Entertainment Campaign, where I get to deliver fiction (books or DVDs) directly to our users at work. It’s a good excuse to explore the hospital and a fun way to increase membership. As part of this project, I have also created some web pages to promote our health and well-being collection. After graduating with a undergraduate psychology degree and a specialty in fiction/reading, I find myself drawn to working with our non-clinical and mood boosting collections in particular. To deepen my understanding of the impact reading and fiction can have on well-being, I also enrolled in a MOOC about literature and mental health earlier this year. I really appreciated the support I had from my team to pursue my interests with CPD.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a library traineeship without reflecting on smaller jobs such as book stamping, form processing and answering those all-important questions on the help desk – a.k.a. “where is the cafe” and “can I park my car here.” (Why must NHS parking be so challenging??) In all seriousness, because our team is quite small, I started working almost immediately and have been able to dip into loads of projects. I’ve processed new books and journals, answered and requested inter-library loans, and even helped complete a journal weed. We’ve also been developing marketing strategies, and to help sell the library to the rest of the hospital I’ve been creating presentations and animated videos. I’ve even been on the wards, getting to meet clinical staff and see the hospital “in-action.” No doubt one of the benefits of working in a health library is the variety!

Besides work, I’ve also really enjoyed exploring Devon. While the rain did take some getting used to, I’ve managed to spend a lot of time walking on the moor, meeting alpacas and even tortoise racing. Making friends post-university was a challenge, but everyone here has been lovely and joining teams and classes (candle making and netball anyone??) has really helped.

On my first day of work Lucy and Tim got out a tape measure to check if the computer monitor was the appropriate distance from my face. I remember emailing a friend saying “what have I got myself into.” Almost a year of NHS health and safety policy later, I feel comfortable and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been gifted. I’ve visited libraries all over the country, learned about catheters with nurses, gone to a library Christmas meeting and much, much more. With some sadness, I am ready to close this chapter and leave Devon. Thank you to everyone who has hosted me and helped me over the last year. Good luck, and I hope the next Torbay graduate trainee provides you with as least as many snacks as I did!

Critical Care Presentations

After seeing students come in and out of the library everyday, it was nice to be invited to their end of year presentations. For each set of presentations a librarian gets invited to help mark and this time I was free to shadow the whole 1/2 day event.

On this course, each student wrote an essay/made a presentation about a “Mr. Brown,” a case study of a patient that died in hospital due to a number of (human) errors. This is especially relevant in the context of the last few weeks, as there was a national inquiry over the death of a 3 year old from our trust.

  1. Report:
  2. Recent updates:

Each student presented a different aspect of “Mr.Brown’s” treatment, including the importance of communication and the use of different drugs. It was very interesting, and good to see a tangible result of our work here in the library. It’s also nice to see the NHS prioritize continuing education, as everyone on this course was a practicing clinical staff member (from nurses to those in anesthesiology).

Summer Entertainment Campaign

As I am getting ready to leave Torquay (just under five weeks to go!), I have been working on an independent project, the Summer Entertainment Campaign. This is based off of the Winter lucky-dip and is a way that hospital staff can have a book or DVD delivered directly to their ward or office. All they need to do is fill out an online form, and I sign them up to the library, match them with an item and then go and deliver it straight to their door. It’s a fun way to explore the hospital. As part of this program, I have also been learning how to use Modx to develop webpages to promote our health and well-being collection. This includes books on prescription, reading agency recommended fiction and a selection of health-based DVDs.

I like working with our non-clinical/mood boosting collections because, having previously studied reading in the context of psychology, I know how much of an impact reading and fiction can have on well-being and health. For example, you can read here about the evidence behind self-help books. I also took this online course about literature and mental health, which was very interesting.

To find out more about the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme, click here.

Knowledge Share

Current awareness is a buzzword in healthcare. For many years librarians have disseminated the latest evidence to their members using tools such as regular email lists. However, recently these systems have become more advanced. Brighton and Sussex University NHS Foundation Trust set up “Knowledge Share” in 2013 as a way to personalize current awareness.

Their system includes an algorithm which matches a database of user interests to indexed current evidence (including NICE resources, policy and events), thus enabling each user to receive a bi-weekly list of the latest information in their area(s) of interest.

This program started off in Brighton, but has quickly grown. It is now used across the NHS. Recently we’ve decided to buy into it, and someone from Brighton came to train us last week. It’s a pretty interesting program that also includes a literature search tool and a skills training management system. They’re also going to be introducing a social networking element soon – how very modern!

We’re trying to get this in place before the new batch of Junior Doctors arrive in August, so we’re probably going to have a steep learning curve.

Met Office

The Met Office is the UK’s national weather service. In 2004 its headquarters were moved to Exeter. It is a stunning building, with a sidewalk-inspired interior complete with street lamps, trees and a small creek. The Met is a huge organization, and has its own in-house library and archive. Last week I shadowed their librarians and archivist for a morning.

Trying to find the Met Office proved to be challenging. As a stereotypical twenty-something, I am overly dependent on my phone, and didn’t see the need to print out a map. Mistake #1, as the area is in a GPS black hole. As soon as I left the train station I got turned around. However, with the help of a few nice strangers I was able to make my way to the offices, just making my appointment. Phew.

The Met has a unique setup with both its archives and library on-site. While they are in different buildings and are run by different staff, many of the requests coming into the Met require information from both places. While the library was nice, I was most impressed with the archive. Each storage unit was temperature controlled, with air-decontamination units activating everytime a door opened. Furthermore, it looked like a “proper” archive (aka one from the movies) with its dark looming corridors and copious amounts of fire proofing.

Some of the things I saw (and got to handle!) include the original d-day weather forecast and the first iteration of the Beaufort wind scale, taken from Beufort’s 1806 diary.

Talking tech with the librarians was also very interesting, as their systems are much more advanced than ours at the NHS. I must admit some of the weather-specific language went way over my head though.

Finally I spoke with an Information Officer, who told me more about their user base. As it is a public library, many different types of people request information and want to use their resources. For instance this can include scientists as well as fiction authors wanting meteorological accuracy in their next historical novel. One of their more popular requests is for weather fact-sheets for baby books. What a great idea! Everyone here seemed to enjoy their work, and it seemed to be partly due to this variety.

Overall, it was a very eye-opening trip, and I look forward to the next libraries I visit!

Southmead Hospital

A few days ago I visited Southmead Hospital and library. Recently re-furbished, the library was much bigger and more modern than ours here at Torbay. It’s really great to be able to meet more people in the profession, and one of the things that I liked most about this visit was talking to staff who had previously worked in mental healthcare libraries. Library people are friendly and always ready to give advice. And, graduating with an undergraduate in psychology, I am always eager to see how people integrate the subject into other careers paths. For instance, I learned more about recovery colleges, which “use an educational paradigm to complement traditional treatment approaches.”

After looking around the library, we were taken to the Brunel building, the latest addition to Southmead hospital. Entering, it was immediately apparent why it has been referred to as a “super hospital.” I have never seen anything like it. Looking more like a combination hotel/airport than hospital, there were even trees growing inside. However, my favourite thing had to be the robots. These unmanned robots take everything from bedding to bread around the hospital. A hospital of the future, indeed.



Community Visits: Totnes

After we became an ICO (Integrated Care Organization) last year, the librarians here at Torbay have been eager to visit community hospitals for outreach. Last week I visited Totnes Hospital with my manager to meet with their staff. There’s no designated library there, and the hospital is much smaller and considerably less frantic. Also its interior reminded me of a log-cabin more than anything else. It was interesting to see how they are run, and we arranged to return in the summer to provide information literacy and database training. I’m looking forward to future visits, both to this hospital and others in the area!


One Month In…

Yesterday marked the end of my first month at TSDFT. Since my last blog post I have:

  • Completed hospital induction with over 100 other new clinical and non-clinical trust staff. Some highlights of this two day affair included: a 30 minute presentation on hand washing, multiple tea breaks, and learning how to lift boxes.
  • Gone on a 2.5hr tour of the wards, thus getting to meet clinical staff and see the hospital “in-action.” This was very informative, as it helped contextualize my work. Also my manager is thinking about conducting short database tutorials on the wards, and so it was important to see which departments were interested in this scheme.
  • Learned the difference between a healthcare assistant, trainee assistant practitioner, staff nurse, senior sister, matron…phew!
  • Conducted a journal weed, which includes throwing away 6 months of our journal holdings. This is important because as a medical library, we are ethically bound to only show the most recent (a.k.a. last 5 years) of research. Also, to be honest, we just did not have the shelf space.
  • Started hiking with the Devon Bootlegs. So far I’ve been to Dartmoor, which is really stunning. I even saw some dartmoor ponies.
Lustleigh Village
Dartmoor Ponies
  • Started to learn more about literature searches and the healthcare databases that we offer. The MOOC is helping a lot.
  • Updated the management catalogue. In our library we use the SWIMS catalogue to keep track of everything from users to journal holdings. This has to be updated constantly: adding new library members, deleting those who have expired, updating new books, and so forth.
  • Going through a retiring psychologist’s donated books to see which ones were still relevant and could be added to the library’s collection (after a while of searching it became abundantly clear that none of the books were younger than me…even if I added an extra 10/20 years to my age).
  • Been introduced to CQC (Ofsted for hospitals). They’re coming for inspections in February, and while the library is not a top-priority (we’re not sure if they’ll come to speak to us directly), we’ve still started to compile an evidence-base to show we’ve met their standards.
  • Joined a netball team. We meet every Tuesday, and go workout at a local gym a couple of times a week (optional of course!).
  • Booked train tickets for a weekend in London.

…and that just scratches the surface! It’s been incredibly busy, but I’m still so glad this is where I ended up. I’m learning a lot about healthcare libraries, and even made some friends.

Week One

I just finished my first week of work, and let me tell you, it has been a blur! I can’t believe how much has happened.

My official title is “Graduate Library Trainee,” and I’m working for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (library homepage). The library is located next to Torbay Hospital’s Horizon Centre, but it also provides services for community partners/organizations within this trust that aren’t the hospital. According to the trust’s website

The Trust runs Torbay Hospital, nine community hospitals and provides health and social care in Dawlish, Teignmouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, Torbay, Newton Abbot, Ashburton, Bovey Tracey and the surrounding area.

This week acted as a crash course in library work. There are four people in my department, and the library manager also just started. On Monday we signed paperwork (lots of it), and went on a tour of the hospital (even getting to see where the hospital helicopters land!). I had only been to the library and horizon centre for my interview, and didn’t realize how big the hospital is. Here is a map.

One of the strangest moments of training happened when completing health and safety checks. Here we were required to measure (with a tape measure) the distance between the computer monitor and my head… I guess they don’t want to be sued if I strain my eyes!

Because our department is relatively small, I was able to get a taste of many different jobs, and start working almost immediately. Tasks that I’ve been working on include: processing new books and journals, answering and requesting interlibrary loans, and processing the paperwork that goes into signing up new students/doctors for the library. I also got to observe an induction training for new nurses.

It is overwhelming how nice and accommodating my coworkers are. They have worked so hard to make me feel at ease in this place, and are always ready to answer any questions that may come up (not only about library work – I’m also getting lots of good information about things to do and see in the area!).

It’s also very interesting to work in a healthcare library, and see the differences between public v. academic v. healthcare/speciality libraries. For instance, there are many ethical issues around medical and healthcare librarianship that I never considered.

After work most days I come back to my flat and crash. It is a little overwhelming to start at a new job, and so far my building is very quiet (and not social). To try to make friends I therefore am joining Devon Bootlegs on their weekly walk tomorrow. Hopefully the 6:30am wakeup will be well worth it!