UoB Self Help Guides (Student Experience Projects Team)

Background

Initiated by the Student Support team and project managed by the Student Experience Projects Team (SEPT), the Self Help Guides project involved the branding, customisation and publicity of a set of Self Help Guides produced, regularly updated and peer reviewed by accredited professionals in the NHS.

Summary of initiative

The series of online Self Help Guides was developed to provide additional support and resources for students experiencing emotional and behavioural issues.

Staff resources in Student Support are limited and so there is a need to control and manage demand on key Student Support services, especially Counselling and Wellbeing. In this digital age, students expect online resources to be available for them and this allows students who would not choose to visit the services personally to access support virtually.

The project included several aspects:

  • Design of 19 Self Help Guide covers so that they are immediately recognisable as being associated with the University
  • Customisation of the useful organisations sections of the guides to ensure that the most appropriate information and contact details are included
  • Production of a functional bookshelf-style website for students to access the guides from, a UoB website to point towards this website (including relevant website banners and side images) and 100 printed copies of each of the 19 guides
  • Marketing and publicity plan investigated, written and implemented
  • Posters produced to promote the Self Help Guides
  • Handover guide written for the ongoing management of the system

Who was involved?

  • SEPT (project management)
  • Counselling team
  • Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (Informatics Department)
  • Designs and Publications Department
  • Alpha Graphics Printing Company

What was the impact?

The Self Help Guide website and printed booklets were produced and all those involved were very happy with the result. The posters have been produced and recently been distributed around the University campus.

The website hits have substantially exceeded our target, of 1500 – 2000 hits. The hits for the last few days in November and December were 3941. It is hoped that this will only increase as they are further promoted with the posters and as the service continues to inform current clients of their existence.

It is hoped that subject to appropriate safeguards being put in place, a feedback facility (integral to the system) can be activated to allow users to leave their feedback as they use the system, which will be useful to ensure that guides such as these are helpful for students and any suggestions can be taken on board for future improvements or additions.  

Lessons learned

Working with an external company can be challenging. It’s particularly difficult to establish what you don’t know as you become familiar with their quirks and working methods. For example, initially it wasn’t realised that a separate company was involved in the upload of information for the online guides as well as the printed guides. For future similar projects SEPT would have some additional areas where clarifications would be sought prior to the start of the work. These include:

  • Who the main contacts are for the process;
  • What suppliers will need to be set up on the University’s system; and
  • Ensure clear costs for all aspects of the work are provided in advance of starting the process (eg postage costs).

A number of suggested areas for better clarification have also been sent to the NTW NHS Foundation Trust informatics team.

As this was one of the first projects to be subject to SEPT’s new project management documentation, the process was still being established, as we used the documentation. As a result the new documentation has been more familiar and a smoother process for subsequent projects undertaken.

Feedback examples

Examples of feedback will be added once the feedback facility has been activated.

Learn more

You can visit the following websites for more information on this initiative: