Why is it not face-to-face?  


May 23, 2024

After some very helpful feedback from one of our students, we thought we’d spend some time talking about the reason why we offer some of our services in the typical/traditional way of face-to-face/in-person, but other services via alternative means.

Prior to March 2020 and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our Recovery College courses and ILP (Individual Learning Plan) appointments were only offered face-to-face. We had tried to explore the option of e-learning (learning electronically or via the internet) but hadn’t had the resources or skills to be able to do this at that time. Just before the first lockdown hit the UK, in early March 2020, the Wakefield Recovery College team were one of only a few choice teams who were selected to (very quickly) test Microsoft Teams and its uses, ready for a wider rollout across other Trust services in the event of any potential pandemic related lockdown. We swiftly got to work testing it out and learning the ropes and then when we were placed in to the national lockdown, we (alongside our sister recovery college Calderdale and Kirklees) were able to be a key player in ensuring other teams across the Trust knew how to hold Teams calls, share screens and use Teams to be able to hold clinical appointments. This skill building then enabled us to be able to develop an online course offer, which we had wanted to deliver for some time.

As you might expect, being in a national lockdown and working from home also meant we were unable to offer our ILP appointments face-to-face. However, we were continually told by our students that they actually preferred a telephone appointment for their ILP as this meant they had to dedicate less time to the appointment. People no longer had to worry about the logistics of coming in to Wakefield or Pontefract, the cost of buses, taxis or parking, the concern of who would look after their loved one whilst they attended an appointment, etc. Instead, people were able to simply expect a call at a set time, be in the comfort of their own home, and should they have any caring responsibilities, their loved one would be able to be in the same house, even the same room as them if needed. It also meant that it was easier for us to conduct ILP appointments for those too anxious or unwell to travel, those who lived outside of the Wakefield district, and those who felt uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. As an added and unexpected benefit, we also found that more people were attending their appointments, instead of failing to turn up without notice. As a co-produced service who develops its offer based on the input of those around us, we very quickly made the decision that this way of offering ILPs was indeed better all round and benefitted everyone involved. It’s therefore been part of our standard offer (phone call appointments) ever since. But don’t worry, if you have any additional requirements, or would simply prefer to have your ILP conducted face-to-face, we do still offer this. We frequently use a face-to-face option for those who have a hearing impairment or those who require an interpreter for example.

As the pandemic progressed, we were able to see (and again received plenty of feedback) that having an online offer of courses was also beneficial to our students. It meant that people could engage in our sessions and therefore receive support from all over the world! We’ve had students engage with us from Wales, Portugal, Armenia and even as far afield as Canada! It again meant that those with caring responsibilities found it much, much easier to attend sessions for their own wellbeing or that of the person they were caring for. It also meant that those who were too anxious, unwell or did not like social situations could also receive the support they needed by joining a Teams session where they did not have to have their camera or microphone on. It meant there was no longer the obstacle to overcome of having to physically travel to a space and be with others. Instead, they could learn in a space that was comfortable for them. On top of all of these great benefits, it also meant that we were able to reach an audience we’d never been able to before and act as a preventative service. People would be able to retain a level of anonymity in attending. They could simply Google local support offers and attend, without the need to speak to their GP, other healthcare professional, or their employer. It has helped us tremendously engage with and offer support to people who otherwise might not have accessed traditional services. Because of all of these amazing benefits, when lockdown restrictions lifted and we were able to all meet back face-to-face, we took the decision to still offer an online service alongside our face to face service.

Moving forward, we will always continue to offer these non-face-to-face options, alongside our face-to-face options, to support a wider range of people. We know that for most people, face-to-face might seem the norm, but for others this isn’t an option for them and so we want to make sure we cater for everyone. Most of our courses are therefore offered as both an online and a face-to-face option throughout the year. There will always be the odd course where that isn’t possible (woodland skills for example doesn’t work very well as an online option, and learning more about IBS doesn’t work very well as a face-to-face option), but we will always do our best to offer as much as we can to support as many as we can.

Don’t forget, you can also let any of the team know if you can only attend one format (online or face-to-face), or simply have a preference for one or the other.

If you have any questions about any of our course offers, or think something else needs to be offered, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any of the team on 01924 316946, or at wakefieldrecoverycollege@swyt.nhs.uk.

I hope to see you soon!

Lindsey, Recovery College Principal


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