Homeworking and improving poor home WiFi

Like many of you, when COVID hit I was expected to work from home for much of my working week. I quickly put dibs on the dining room table. I borrowed a work laptop that had recently been upgraded to Windows 10, which meant that I could easily connect to my computer files and Trust’s intranet. I purchased a computer chair after a week or so of enduring what I once thought were comfortable dining chairs and an ergonomic mouse that stopped me from getting RSI. All sorted.

But there was one huge elephant in the room.

Poor wifi connection – lots of coverage blackspots and our devices regularly fell off the wifi connection. We live in a weirdly shaped bungalow – it’s very long, with rooms going off at strange angles and lots of thick walls in the way. The router was located at the very back of the house in an extension the previous owners had built, and it was on a separate electrical network. This is an important point for trying to sort out connectivity issues.

Ever since moving in, we’ve been trying to sort out this problem. I’ve spoken to our wifi providers – we’re on the fastest coverage possible for our area. I’ve spent a couple of evenings on the phone to them trying to tweak our set-up to get maximum oomph out of our connection, which included switching between different frequency channels depending on which ones were less well used at that particular point, and making sure there was nothing near it that could be stopping the signal etc. That didn’t make any difference.

We investigated and purchased a wi-fi extender. The first one we tried was a powerline adaptor – these devices use existing electrical wiring to transmit data between them and extend the reach of the wifi. This is when we discovered that our router is on a different electrical circuit to the rest of the house, so that didn’t work. We next tried a general wireless extender, which acts as a relay to re-broadcast the signal onwards to other parts of the house. This made a small improvement, but we still had blackspots and devices dropping off wifi and needed a separate password.

I investigated getting Virgin cable connected to our house. Note to self – never, ever purchase a house on a private road which can only be accessed via another private road. The Virgin technician very cheerfully told me I was a hiding to nothing there as I needed written permission from every home owner to say that they could tunnel under the roads, and did I have any inkling of the costs involved.

A colleague mentioned to me that they had purchased a more expensive router which had sorted out their issues. Upon further investigation (I really recommend the free articles on the Which website), I came across the idea of mesh routers. These are a network of hubs or satellites – one of them plugs into your existing modem (these days your router is often a combined router/modem) and the others are placed strategically around your house (we have our second hub in the loft). They are a more expensive solution but they have worked brilliantly for us. No more blackspots, no more dropping off wifi. I can get connectivity from any corner of the house. Most importantly, we can now watch television over the internet with zero buffering!

Before purchasing anything as expensive as mesh routers, do your research. Check that the one you are planning on purchasing will be powerful enough for your size of house. Check that it really will eliminate all blackspots if this is your issue and how many devices it supports. I recommend Techradar as a good place to start; they also cover Black Friday deals if you fancy a bargain.

Catherine Micklethwaite
South Devon Healthcare Library Service
catherine.micklethwaite@nhs.net

Knowing your value: describing your impact

Read Nick Poole’s blog post on the launch of the Health Education England report Value proposition for librarians and knowledge specialists in health – The gift of time at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries on 2nd November 2020.

In the blog, Nick describes how the life-changing gift of time shows that employing librarians and evidence specialists delivers both an economic benefit and impacts the healthcare system.

 

 

KNOWvember20 Showcase is underway

Happy KNOWvember20 – will you been inspired to try something new?

Library and knowledge staff across the country have been showcasing their work mobilising evidence and knowledge during the month of November.

“As a result of this session I will look at how we can use learn at lunch type sessions or coffee conversations within the team and linking in with OD workstreams” Participant at KNOWvember20 Showcase

This year, more than any other, has highlighted the benefits of mobilising evidence and knowledge as part of the required response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  A series of presentations on the 2nd November re-enforced this where we heard about the work of the NHS England and NHS Improvement Beneficial Change Network that used knowledge management activities to capture the innovations and changes that occurred in health and care delivery as a consequence of the Covid pandemic.  Stephen Ayre shared how he had used the conversation café format at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust to support staff wellbeing and Tracey Pratchett described how the premortem technique* had been used at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT to learn valuable lessons about the first wave of the pandemic.

*Klein (2007) Performing a Project Premortem. HBR https://hbr.org/2007/09/performing-a-project-prem

Some of us are also trying to move ahead with projects established just before Covid hit.  We heard from Deena Maggs who described how she worked collaboratively with others in the Kings Fund to get agreement for her project to manage the corporate memory of the organisation.  Whereas Preeti Puligari from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust continued to run the QI poster competition to encourage the spread of good practice across her trust.  We heard about how the library became involved and the opportunities that involvement presented for the library and knowledge service. During this session we also held a mini Peer Assist – using the questions from the peer assist technique to learn more from our speakers.  Further details about the session with links to all the presentations can be found in the virtual delegate pack.

four cartoon people sat around a table with a gingham tablecloth

A knowledge café was held on the 12th November which, prompted by an interesting talk by Karen McFarlane the CILIP representative on the committee preparing the BS/ ISO 30401 Knowledge Management Systems, led to conversations about how to use the standard, develop skills and knowledge to make knowledge management part of our standard business offer.  Karen provided a useful overview to the standard and explained how it could be used to internally audit KM practice.  She then moved on to tell us more about CILIP’s knowledge management chartership and there was lots of interest in the chat function about this.  Karen’s presentation, plus links to further information about CILIP Knowledge Management Chartership are available in the Virtual Delegate Pack.

Further events lined-up for KNOWvember20.

On the 17th November 12:30 join the #ukmedlibs chat for a discussion  to share ideas, think about good practice and discuss creative solutions to mobilise knowledge effectively online and during a pandemic.

The 20th November at 11am will consider how we can influence a culture of learning and knowledge sharing in our organisations.   We will hear from speakers sharing the knowledge management initiatives they have been involved with, conduct the first part of an appreciative inquiry into what has gone well for others introducing KM, hold an After Action Review to discover what has worked or not worked well for two knowledge managers and hold a knowledge exchange to find out more about the NHSE/I Beneficial Change Unit.

The 30th November is the last of our recorded webinar sessions and we are excited to be joined by Nicola Millard, Principal Innovation Partner, BT Enterprise who will insp

four cartoon people stading around an over-sized fish in a bowl of water

ire us to consider the ways we live and work in a a future where technology is instrumental.  We will follow this with a virtual fishbowl conversation to further explore the points made by Nicola.

Starting from this week we will also be inviting library and knowledge specialists to record interviews with each other about the work they have been doing to mobilise evidence and knowledge in their organisations.  This could be small scale holding of randomised coffee trials to full-blown implementation of knowledge management strategies.  You can watch the first of these interviews with Sarah Lewis at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, on the  KNOWvember20 YouTube Channel.  Here you will also find all the recorded talks from the sessions held throughout November plus interviews with knowledge managers working in other NHS and non-NHS sectors.

Be inspired and tell us what you have been doing to mobilise evidence and knowledge.