How podcasting has helped The Action Group improve communication and learning.
The Action Group, based in Edinburgh, supports people with disabilities living in the Lothians and other parts of central Scotland. As this mainly involves supporting people in their own homes or their communities, the workers cover a large area, often working alone.
One of the challenges The Action Group faced was how to make sure all their workers are kept up to date with relevant information and felt included. They found that traditional methods of communication, such as email, were not as effective as they hoped. Workers were missing important information and learning which was being shared to help develop their practice.
To address this, they started publishing regular podcasts earlier this year.
What are they doing?
The podcasts, hosted by Jen Dow and Lisa Williamson from The Action Group Quality Team, cover topics including how to maintain a good work/life balance and the importance of looking after your own wellbeing. They plan to cover topics like changes to legislation, policies and procedures in future. Jen explained:
‘Workers suggested the topics already covered and identified others for future podcasts, which is important to encourage people to become involved and to listen to them.’
SSSC Learning and Development Adviser, Barrie Wilson said:
‘I was recently interviewed by Jen and Lisa for a podcast about digital learning and open badges and was able to experience first-hand how workers are engaging with the podcasts.
‘Before we met, they had told people I was going be interviewed. As we chatted about learning and development they received a text from a worker with a question about digital learning for me to answer in the podcast. I felt this was a great example of encouraging people to be involved.’
‘The podcasts are an innovative way of contributing to The Action Group’s communication strategy where the same information is available for people using services and workers. They are publicly available for anyone to download and listen to and are a very good way for people to get to know a bit more about what The Action Group does.’
Jen and Lisa hope this might even help recruitment by enabling job applicants to gain a better understanding of the values and ethos of The Action Group.
We asked why they had decided to use podcasting. Lisa and Jen explained:
‘This offers a very flexible way of providing information. Our staff chose when they listen to the podcasts, perhaps travelling between appointments or in their own time. People can listen to the podcasts while doing other things and they like this style of communication and learning.
‘The steadily growing number of downloads shows this is popular and is valued by workers. Podcasting also enables a more conversational style of presenting information that helps make it more engaging. We found that after each new podcast is shared, downloads of previous ones have increased which shows people like this way of receiving information and want to find out more.
‘Using podcasts is a very cost-effective way for us to communicate and support learning. We only needed a small amount of money to buy a microphone and editing software, which is installed on our laptops, so the only ongoing cost is our time to edit and publish each podcast. It also means we can go anywhere to record the podcasts, which increases the range of opportunities.’
What benefits have you found from using podcasts?
Lisa and Jen noticed that there has been improved engagement with workers across the organisation since the podcasts started. Jen explained:
‘We have developed a dedicated following and people have provided positive feedback and suggestions. We encourage staff to contribute their ideas for podcasts which reinforces their views and suggestions are valued and they can have an influence on how professional development is supported throughout the organisation.’
Lisa added: ‘Asking workers in different roles across the organisation to take part in podcasts is helping to create a culture where everyone sees they have a role in promoting good communication and professional development.
This could be one of the reasons we’ve also noticed an increase in downloads of previous podcasts every time we issue a new one, which suggests people are interested to find out more.
‘Another benefit is that it’s changing a perception that many of our staff had that the Quality Team were only involved in negative aspects of practice development, for example investigating complaints. We feel the podcasts have helped show workers that practice and professional development is positive and can be delivered in an engaging way.’
Would you recommend podcasting to other providers?
‘Absolutely! We’re seeing more and more of our workforce engaging with the podcast, which is amazing! We’re really seeing the benefit of this. Also, podcasts are a really accessible tool for the people we support too. We’re moving into a new way of thinking which involves much more integrated communication between us as a social care provider and the people who use our services. Rather than providing separate information, we are creating content in formats that are accessible to everyone. This is beneficial for everyone – it improves general communication as well as inclusion. It also means that accessibility is at the forefront of our thinking, not to mention it saves a lot of time and money!’