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Case Study: Trainer Jenny is I.T.

Jenny is a Training and Development Officer with the Manchester Royal Infirmary's Haemodialysis Unit. She is responsible for training nurses and other staff to dialyse renal patients and is an NVQ assessor and verifier.

She is also a hip grandmother who writes 'rap' songs for her grandson and wacky verse for friends and colleagues. But fiddling with computers for the joy of it - NO.

Not until she took the ECDL course, that is.

Jenny said: "The fact is, I've never been any good with computers but so much of my work involves using a computer. I just had to learn more. For example, I needed to change and update the training package for teaching staff how to dialyse patients, but could never have done it without the ECDL course.

"When I started the training I thought I would never get the hang of it and I think I must have driven the poor tutor mad, but Mo (Maureen Ingham) was very good with me and went over and over things.

"I didn't find the online learning easy, I preferred the workbooks and ECDL manual but we had to do two hours a week - apparently they can tell if you are going online and doing your two hours. Sometimes I couldn't get onto the online learning, which was a bit frustrating and held me back.

"But the best thing for me was learning PowerPoint. I use that for my teaching sessions but it was rather basic and needed revamping. I've now re-done it, changing the order, putting in boxes, charts and illustrations, scanning images and photographs and dropping them into place making it much more professional and easier to follow. I can take the disk with me to use anywhere and it's much better than using acetates.

"For example, I've just used PowerPoint to improve a training package about sodium levels among dialysis patients. Dialysis pulls off toxins and fluid from the blood and, at the same time, strips off sodium, which has to be replaced. It's vital to get each patient's sodium levels correct, or they can feel very ill and, in the case of cardiac patients, can be at high risk if their sodium levels drop too low.

"I can use the PowerPoint training package with big groups, or sitting at the computer on a one-to-one basis. I can also email it to other departments for them to use.

"I wasn't sure all the modules would be relevant to me and think it would be good if people could choose which modules to do. On the other hand I really didn't want to do the Access module. I didn't think databases would be any use to me and I didn't like it at all at first. Then I realised it was just what I needed to keep track of staff training. I personally train about 100 staff a year on dialysis. They come from all departments and nurses need the training to get their E grade. The database enables me to monitor their various levels of practices and competences and to pull up the information quickly.

"I hardly used email before but now I use it a lot. Sending information and documents to colleagues is really quick and easy. I also use my email's electronic diary - which reminds me of my meetings throughout the day

"The trust is pretty keen to encourage people to go on the course and the sister in charge of the Unit has been very good in giving me time off. However, I'm also aware that I do need to keep practising the things I've learned, or I'll forget things quickly.

"On the whole I enjoyed the course and the same group kept together throughout the 30 weeks. We helped each other and had a bit of a laugh along the way and went out to celebrate our success at passing."

Needless to say Jenny now has her poetry and rap 'saved' and has earned even more 'street cred' with the grandchildren - now she can help them with their IT homework.

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© 2004 British Computer Society. Reproduced with the permission.

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