I’m a social researcher, writer and facilitator who values collaboration, honesty, curiosity and meaningful outcomes.
The focus of my professional life has been this question: how can we best help people investigate their own problems and come up with their own solutions?
I’m skilled at gathering, analysing, simplifying and communicating complex information about human systems (individuals, relationships, work cultures, organisations) so that people can learn what needs to change and why.
My expertise lies in using stories (told through live drama, film, audio, visual, text) to communicate, engage and motivate people around change agendas (at national, organisational and professional levels).
My experience of culture change spans organisational priorities (e.g. leadership, management, teamwork) as well as inter-professional multi-agency priorities (health and social care practice) across public and private sectors.
Storyworlds Life (2016-2020) I co-founded this social enterprise that designs story-based tools for starting conversations about relationships, helping people identify what needs to change so they can better support each other and those in their care. Conversation Starters offer providers and users of services a simple framework for sharing experience, expressing disagreement and identifying common ground.
Forum Interactive (1998-2016) I co-founded this drama based learning and development consultancy that helps clients transform attitudes, behaviours and cultures at work. Our client base was broad, including public sector (NHS, Councils, Gvt Agencies), private sector (Oil & Gas, Financial, Transport, Construction) and voluntary.
Various Research projects (1994-2000) University of Stirling (Research Fellow), Queen Margaret University (Research Fellow) and projects delivered as a freelancer.
Experience and skills
Descriptions of longer term culture change projects that I’ve led over the last ten years are provided in the next section. From these and other aspects of my work, I’ve gained the following areas of experience and skill:
Communication – oral (facilitating, presenting, consulting, interviewing, counselling); written (academic, script-writing, learning materials, reports, blogging, social media)
Organisational consulting (consulting, devising intervention around client’s change objectives, client management, understanding how organisations function, working with values)
Designing educational resources (structuring and designing content around learning objectives, user friendly writing)
Running a business (finance, marketing, website build, social media, business strategy, costing, administration, recruitment)
Research (planning, qualitative methods, analysing, communicating)
Managing learning & development interventions (learning and development theories and practice, designing intervention [whether workshop, conference, on-line, workbook], developing content, facilitating, presenting, evaluating, understanding drama practice, facilitating action learning sets)
Workforce development (understanding how to address competency gap, leadership and management training, understanding work culture and culture change)
Important to Me – Scrambled (2018)
This story based tool was commissioned by Edinburgh Napier University to enhance student learning across the undergraduate health and social care programme.
Scrambled enables learners – whoever they may be – to explore health and well-being amidst the complexities and challenges of people’s everyday lives.
Scrambled is also used in the form of ‘Conversation Starters’, offering a practical, flexible, and enjoyable way to learn about relationships, their impact, and the small changes needed to enhance health and wellbeing. These Conversation Starters are designed for use by individuals, families, voluntary sector, and public service providers.
Important to Me – Connor Goes Swimming (2017)
This story based tool was commissioned by Scottish Government to implement a national policy for children and young people.
By bringing together individuals, families and all who support them, Connor Goes Swimming is intended to improve the experience and outcomes of care by:
- Working towards shared outcomes, based on the child or young person’s priorities and those of their family and carers
- Helping those closest to the child or young person to develop the knowledge, skills, understanding, and confidence needed to provide support
- Encouraging collaborative relationships between children, young people, families, and professionals
- Focusing therapeutic interventions on those children, young people, and families with the greatest need.
Following pilots in Tayside, Fife, Grampian, Ayrshire, it’s being used by practitioners within public service (education, health, social care), voluntary sector and parents.
Compassionate Connections (2011-2015)
Funded by Scottish Government (through NHS Education for Scotland and NHS Health Scotland). Project involved the design, development, delivery and evaluation of a story based education programme to support transformation of maternity services in Scotland in line with Government Policy (Refreshed Framework for Maternity Services 2010).
During implementation (2014-2015) the programme was delivered within Higher and Further Education Institutions, NHS Board Areas in Scotland and Local Authorities. It’s still being used.
Sliding Doors: culture change programme (2010-2013)
Project funded by Scottish Government (through NHS Education for Scotland in partnership with Scottish Social Services Council) to support implementation of Reshaping Care for Older People (2010) government policy and the Integration Agenda.
Project involved developing a programme of work focused on a drama Iain & Maggie: A Good Life including live events (conferences and workshops), on-line learning resources and workshop materials for others to use.
Connect in Care (2007-2010)
Project delivered with University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, funded by NHS Education for Scotland and Care Commission (now Care Inspectorate). Designed to support nurses who care for older people in health, social care and private care settings by providing a network for sharing practice, knowledge, ideas etc.
This work produced a publication “Let’s Talk About It” in which the story based materials created and the methods used in this work, were shared – including: ‘Who Cares?’ (a DVD), Catch my Eye (a play and audio), In a Fankle (a play and film), Night and Day (a play and audio) – together with learning resources and guides
“If people are used to keeping quiet – about the issues that concern them, or the experiences that give them pleasure, or the unmet needs they have, or the knowledge they have gained, or the ideas they have – then the whole environment is impoverished. By actively engaging people in discussion about the world in which they live and work, a culture of curiosity develops rather than a culture of silence.
“The story-based resources presented in this Practical Guide are all designed to stimulate people’s imaginations, enlivening them to their own experience and to that of others.”
Walker E, Wilkinson H, McCauley A, Forbes A (2010) Let’s Talk About It: using stories to improve care for older people – A Practical Guide University of Edinburgh
Making sure older people have nutritious food and drinks is fundamental to good care.
Programme partners were the Scottish Government, the Care Commission (now Care Inspectorate) and the Care Homes for Older People Dietitians Network. They, with expert help from Forum Interactive, designed and delivered the programme and evaluated its impact.
The programme partners recruited 112 people who worked in care homes across Scotland, including chefs, care workers and managers. They became nutrition champions and participated in a six-month programme of learning and practice development.
I led the delivery and evaluation of the programme and wrote the report.
Education resources and workbooks…
This is a learning resource for practitioners (education, health, social care) working with young people who use AAC systems. It was created in partnership with Talking Mats Ltd and was funded by NHS Education for Scotland.
While Talking Mats developed story material in the form of film clips, I designed, structured and wrote the learning resource.
A learning resource for individuals with dysphagia, their families and their carers to help them to understand how to follow the advice they have been given to create the consistency of texture in food and drink that is best for them. resource
The resource was originally developed in 2009. It was produced online and accessed by the NES website. In 2012, the agreed way to describe textures was altered slightly. This workbook version of the resource reflects these changes and the many requests to have the resource available as a workbook not just online format.
I developed the structure for this workbook and wrote the content.
This resource (funded by NHS Education for Scotland) was created for health, education, social work and voluntary sector staff by people with communication support needs. They share their experience of contact with services to help staff understand how to improve communication.
The resource shows learners how to use the film clips to reflect on their own practice and identify ways to improve their communication.
I designed the structure for the film clips and wrote the content for the resource.
Funded by Scottish Government (through NHS Education for Scotland) to promote self-management of long term conditions among patients.
Anna’s Story was created and told through live drama (for launch events) and through film (for a practitioner learning resource).
- University of Loughborough BA (Hons) English and History, 1984-87
- University of Nottingham, MA Linguistics and Modern English Language, 1988-89
- University of York, DPhil Sociology, 1990-1994
- Edinburgh Gestalt Institute, Diploma Gestalt Therapy 2005-2009
- Gestalt Therapy as Embodied Relational Practice (with Michael Clemmens) 54 hours (2010)
- Working with Body Process (with James Kepner) 36 hours (2011)
- Systematic Family Constellations, Illness and Symptoms (with Stephan Hausner) 16 hours (2012)
- Introduction to Object Relational Gestalt Psychotherapy (Level 1) (with Gilles Delisle) 12 hours (2012)
- Neuroscience, love, connection and contact (with Tod Burley) 12 hours (2013)