A return to Uganda with Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Following our earlier trips to Uganda this year, Nisha and I are back at Kitovu, this time to teach some behavioural science within the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Masters training programme (training the trainers). We have been really grateful for how open both our Ugandan and UK colleagues have been to learning about behaviour change and seeing how they can apply it to their work. We have given presentations, honed our acting skills to role-play behaviour change techniques, facilitated workshops and provided ongoing feedback and mentoring on teaching skills – all in all definitely earning our daily portion of matoke. The teaching around motivation was particularly well received, to the point where autonomous motivation is the new buzz word around town. It has cropped up as frequently as medical skills in the key points delegates report getting out of the training, in conversations over lunch, and somewhat surprisingly also in morning prayers. For us, it’s been really energising to see the impact that the theories and ideas we are so familiar with have had on health professionals coming across them for the first time, and the appetite there seems to be in both the UK and Ugandan teams to include these ideas in future courses they run. So, we feel we’ve done our best to show how indispensable health psychologist are in Uganda and beyond!

Fiona Gillison
Change Exchange Behaviour Change Consultant

Wendy and Nim in Uganda with Royal College of Midwives

Our time in Kampala working with midwives on the momentum project is nearing its end.  The momentum project is a health partnership which seeks to facilitate a mentoring programme of student midwives by skilled Ugandan midwifery practitioners. It does this through twinning of Ugandan midwives with midwives from the uk and through training in mentoring skills.  In a short week we have contributed to sessions on behavioural change and communication skills in the training programme, conducted interviews with midwives, twins, students and representatives from the Ugandan private midwives association and the nursing and midwifery council and have had many conversations late into the night about research and evaluation processes and measures. On our final day we were able to visit two very different hospital settings. We are tired but also inspired and exhilarated. The midwives here in Uganda and those we have met on the momentum project from the UK are passionate, knowledgeable and positive.

momentum2_orig

Despite often difficult circumstances, the humour is universal and crosses any potential cultural or language challenges.

We look forward to returning to continue to look at the evaluation of change and its impact not only on the student midwives learning but also on the learning environments.

A reflective blog from Nisha & Fiona

OBSERVATIONS ON HEALTH CENTRE TOUR

Our aim this week is to go out and see for ourselves what the Ugandan health care workers are up against when safely delivering pregnant women throughout the region. So for this blog post we thought we’d bring you along with us to give you a flavour of what we found…… We left Masaka heading southwest towards Rakai district on unusually smooth, paved roads, gently weaving around the motorbikes (boda bodas) laden with people and bananas. Shacks and small one-room buildings line the roads in town, selling metal doors, plastic buckets and bowls, and all the phone credit you can use.

Occasionally, joints of meat hang for sale in the sun, and small thatched shacks offer pyramids of tomatoes, watermelons, potatoes and the occasional avocado.

After some time we leave the main road and are unceremoniously catapulted onto ‘real’ Ugandan roads made of compacted dusty, red and rutted earth. We slow to almost a crawl at points, picking our way through banana fields, past students being taught beneath the shade of a tree outside their school, until the buildings thin out to just one or two scattered across the rolling hills. The 20 or so kilometres takes us over an hour, and are uncomfortable enough for us in our sturdy van let alone how it must feel for a woman in the throes of a difficult labour heading for help on the back of a boda. Nisha’s pedometer registers 6000 steps – confirming our feelings of being thrown around inside the car. Progress is slow, but we finally reach the village and turn into the health centre.

Outside, we see queues of young men and boys listening to a lecture under a tarpaulin advertising safe male circumcision. We’re told they’ve been collected in government cars as part of an outreach HIV prevention project, and later today will each make the call of whether or not to go ahead with a circumcision, right here and now, before the ride back….. We walk on towards the scattering of delapidated buildings that make up the health centre, which a member of staff later tells me he is worried will all soon fall in on their heads. We share his fears.

We find the course graduate that we’re visiting in the labour ward – the ward is empty, and strikingly filthy. This is a level three health centre – in theory two steps down from a hospital, yet there are no drugs, no syringes, no gloves and often no water available here. Patients’ families are sent to the village drug store to buy their own, but the midwives themselves agree that the cost of the gloves alone (officially a requirement) can be prohibitive. A Ugandan colleague gamely volunteers to be our ‘mystery shopper’ and try out the drug store and it’s a sobering experience. Although she does come away with a sealed strip of paracetamol, albeit with no date stamp.

Against this backdrop we now understand more than ever the importance that the RCOG faculty place on urging trainees to become advocates, lobbying for the resources that should be provided, rather than only teaching new clinical skills. We have huge sympathy with the health care workers struggling to function in these conditions, but perhaps stronger sympathy still for the mothers for whom this represents the best and only source of help. It’s a grounding lesson in what our behaviour change theories and techniques are up against in this part of the world – but also a challenge calling behavioural scientists to action: The reality facing this midwife in this health centre on her return to work seems to have drained her initial post-course enthusiasm pretty fast – how can behavioural science help to sustain her motivation and sense of empowerment long enough to overcome some of the barriers, and keep going long enough to make a difference?

Is it science or just communication?

This week, I attended a national meeting about patient centredness and was inspired by the work across the NHS to transform care: empowering patients to control their own health and wellbeing; engaging them by increasing their motivation for healthy behaviours and enabling them by providing opportunities and planning to make positive changes.
I reflected on what our Change Exchange volunteers were doing in Uganda and Mozambique and how much of the work was similar to the work on patient centredness across NHSE. Our volunteers are taking cutting edge behavioural science and translating it, at the front line of health education, to increase understanding of what drives people to do health threatening or health protective behaviours. At the same time, they are studying their activities to add to the body of behavioural science knowledge.

I thought about what was at the heart of learning to be more patient centred and learning to empower, engage and enable people in self care and it is, of course, communication. I don’t mean “skills” but I mean genuine communication: people coming together to understand each other.

As our volunteers reflect on what has been successful in their translation of behavioural science I feel sure that it will be about the deeper understanding of people that the deeper understanding of behaviour facilitates.

An update from Kitovu

We’re coming to the end of our 2nd week out in Kitovu – we are caked in red dust, exhausted but also buzzing with ideas of what our next steps could be…. We’ve been very lucky in having really a very receptive, dynamic group of RCOG and Ugandan facilitators to work with, and have already seen many of our suggestions for incorporating behaviour change techniques put into action. The focus groups we have run with Ugandan facilitators and delegates have been particularly insightful, and helped us to gain a more culturally informed perspective. We will be sorry to say goodbye to the majority of the UK team at the end of the week once the training course finishes – after which the real work starts for us. Over our final 10 days out here, we’ll be accompanying the Marcus Filshie fellow Felicity Illingsworth on visits to local health centres to see how previous graduates have got on since completing their training, and reflecting on opportunities for supporting them to make and maintain long term changes. And just to make sure we don’t have an idle moment, we’ll also be developing the behavioural science input into the new Masters’ Training Programme to be delivered in September.
Fiona and Nisha

An update from Beira….

Corina and Eleanor reflect on their first week in Mozambique:

It has been a fantastic week working with our Ipswich colleagues and partners in Beira Central Hospital. This amazing partnership aims to help improve patient safety through projects related to two key strands: equipment maintenance and medication safety. We have been predominantly involved in the complex strand of medication safety, through conducting interviews, focus groups and questionnaires with staff involved in implementing new medication safety procedures. We have also attended drug calculation training and coded the training for behaviour change techniques; presented information to Beira healthcare staff on the role of Health Psychology and the importance of behaviour in healthcare; and worked with our Ipswich partners to deliver training on antibiotic resistance.

All of this work would not have occurred without the invaluable translation help from Luana and Ermerlinda, as unfortunately our Portuguese does not stretch far beyond Obrigado!

A return to Kitovu with RCOG

The June Excellence in Obstetrics Skills course at Kitovu finally gets underway today, run by a new team from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It is great to see the course incorporating recommendations from Nisha and Amy’s visit in April, in particular the revised action planning guidance: adding implementation intentions and coping planning.  We hope to develop other recommendations into workable formats in collaboration with the RCOG team, as the course progresses.

Nisha and Fiona’s other key aims for this week are to explore what types of social support may be acceptable and practical for Ugandan practitioners, in the absence of support from the UK team further down the line, and to collect video stories from previous graduates of the Excellence in Obstetrics Course to illustrate the positive outcomes delegates might expect from adopting the recommended practice changes.  In behavioural science terms, this provides a more convincing rationale to foster autonomous motivation for change based on local experiences.  Following a day of preparation and rehearsals yesterday with the returning Ugandan course graduates who will form part of the training faculty, we have our behaviour change technique checklists and audio recording equipment at the ready to see what difference behavioural science input could make this time around.  More to follow…..
Nisha and Fiona

After 5 months….

RCOG-Kitovu
Amy and Nisha had a busy and exciting trip with the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Uganda in April.  We were so impressed by how much they managed to achieve in a relatively short time.  In a 2-week period, they packed in a lot of data collection methods!  They made field notes, carried out focus groups, collected behavioural expectation data and coded the education for behaviour change techniques using the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy.
On their return, they wrote a report for RCOG, constructed in terms of capability, opportunity and motivation, provided suggestions about enhancing learning and developed some considerations for RCOG to think about on the basis of their findings.

For example, they found that there was an increase, pre to post course, in delegates’ expectations about using an ABCD approach to acutely ill patients.  They coded 20 behaviour change techniques that the faculty were using, including demonstration of the behaviour, graded tasks and using a credible source.
We have received some early feedback from RCOG – they found the report interesting and helpful and are planning to implement some changes.  We look forward to Nisha and Fiona’s findings.

Ipswich-Beira

Eleanor and Corina have landed in Beira, Mozambique, with the team from Ipswich Hospital.  Eleanor and Diane have already visited the partners when the Beira partners were in Ipswich last month.  With a focus on medication safety, we are looking forward to an update from them about what behavioural science can offer this partnership.

RCM-UPMA

Wendy and Nimarta are about to depart for Kampala with colleagues from the Royal College of Midwives working on the MOMENTUM project with the Ugandan Private Midwives Association.  The MOMENTUM project is about mentoring of student midwives and takes a mentoring approach throughout, with the UK midwifery consultants twinning with their Ugandan counterpart to bring about postive changes in mentoring in midwifery training.  Taking a collaborative and action research approach, Wendy and Nim are, on a short trip, developing ideas about how behavioural science can assist these partners in meeting their aims.  We look forward to their update.

University of Plymouth-Masanga Hospital, Sierra Leone

Discussions are underway with this partnership about how behavioural science evaluations can assist them in understanding the impact of their elearning on healthcare workers and community members when they suspect someone is infected with a highly infectious disease.  So far, we have designed a behavioural science-based questionnaire to assess capability, opportunity and motivation for key behaviours such as hand washing, using a buddy when putting on or taking off personal protective equipment and providing oral hydration even if someone is not thirsty.  An update is expected in July.

Returning from Uganda

Our behaviour change consultants Amy and Nisha have now returned home from their work in Uganda:
Over the past few weeks we have been incredibly busy learning about how the RCOG obstetric skills course in Uganda works. We have: observed two skills courses and two train the trainer courses; collected pre and post course data assessing knowledge and action planning; conducted four focus groups with Ugandan doctors and midwives and a photo-elicitation focus group with RCOG faculty; and visited a number of course graduates across the Masaka region to explore how they are getting on with applying their skills in practice. We are currently in the process of producing an interim report for the RCOG detailing the evidence of the behavioural science techniques we observed and our recommendations for embedding more behavioural science within the course. Nisha is looking forward to returning to Kitovu in June to collect more data and potentially put some of our recommendations into practice.

A visit to Ipswich

Our volunteer, Eleanor Bull, returned from a trip to Ipswich to meet people from both sides of the Ipswich-Beira Health Partnership.  Eleanor and our other volunteer, Diane Dixon, had created some great information to explain behaviour change and behavioural science to the Health Partnership leads and others.  We had some great and valuable input from Portuguese speaking Health Psychologists, Vera Araujo-Soares and Angela Rodrigues, who did some ‘armchair volunteering’ and (at very short notice) translated the material prepared by Eleanor and Diane into Portuguese for the Beira team.

Eleanor reported that the trip was a great success in terms of planning how behavioural science can really add value to the work of the Ipswich-Beira Health Partnership work around medicines safety.  Sarah Cavanagh, Project lead for Ipswich said “Eleanor has been absolutely brilliant and has added much already to our Partnership”.
Eleanor and a new volunteer, Corina Mason, will be travelling to Mozambique with the Ipswich team in June.