13 April, 2014

COHEHRE in conference

Having just returned from the international conference of the COHEHRE consortium in Groningen, it's fitting to review the first exploration of a European network that is new to the social work sector.
In the session specifically dedicated to new members and social work delegates, we were told that COHEHRE is an interprofessional consortium of institutes of higher education in health, rehabilitation and social work.It supports professional development of its membership by supporting mobility of students, staff / teachers, by project work and the academy (capacity building), by publishing papers in the Journal of Allied Health and by hosting an annual conference. To this conference that was organised conveniently near in our own country, I had been invited by colleagues from the school of healthcare studies of our Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. 

These annual conferences are always in line with the designated theme of the European Year, in 2014 being: Reconciling Work and Family Life. A theme, like most themes of the European Years, that sits well with social work professionals, teaching staff and students.
An interesting feature of the annual conference is the international student conference that is organised alongside: a gathering applying the same theme as the staff conference, with students mingling with teaching staff delegates at interspersed moments in the programme and concluding with a final presentation of the students. This is definitely a win - win approach, making both conferences on the one hand efficient and on the other hand more dynamic and enjoyable, allowing for dialogue and co-creation as well.
Looking back on the conference as a whole, it is clear that by far most talks and workshops are in fact linked to the health sector and health education professionals. Only from time to time in workshops and keynotes the social work sector is referred to, although parallels or references would have been easy to point out. 
As the social and health sector are in a process of converging it's not surprising that a network like COHEHRE has decided to spread its wings and attempt to attract social work educators as well. Social workers belong to the family of the helping professions after all. However, for the consortium to be successful in its mission it needs to become distinctly more inclusive in all of its materials, actions and activities. At present,  for delegates of social work programmes Cohehre doesn't provide such an appeal yet, in other words the network still has quite a long way to go, to really connect with social work educators. Simply by clicking on the link of the consortium / network this image comes into view, 

clearly a message that won't speak to the social domain. 

Besides, as the social work sector itself has a variety of good networks and associations, it's not an obvious step for the average social work educator to choose the Cohehre consortium wholeheartedly and prefer it over its own networks of professional associations, faculties of social work and social education for the purpose of professional development or capacity building. With the school of healthcare studies as a very active partner in this network our university is well represented. By effective internal networking I'm convinced our school of social work will manage to keep abreast of innovative interprofessional developments and come a long way in keeping up to speed on the international front. All in all, Cohehre is an interesting network worth keeping an eye on and possibly interesting for the discerning social work educator who has affinity with health matters. Yet, it is not the first nor second choice for a solid European consortium in the social domain, unless cross-sectoral collaboration with the health sector is prioritised at a local level.
On a final, positive note, one area in which Cohehre has recently taken a brilliant social step is to design a kind of facebook for its members: the Cohehrebook, promoted as the social hub of Cohehre. In this they have definitely taken a step beyond many other professional networks, enabling its members (i.e. any interested staff member within a member organisation, such as HR) to give quick updates, create groups around topics of interest, share files and folders easily, keep up the inspiring conversation in the days following conferences etc.
More information about COHEHRE, membership, conferences and more can be found here. And here's the link to Cohehrebook.

01 April, 2014

Now you know ...

Whenever international people come to Rotterdam, one question pops up: is it Holland or is it the Netherlands ? Sometimes this is followed by another question: why are people from the Netherlands called Dutchmen? and what about your language, why Dutch ?
Fortunately, there is a short video explaining all that ... and more.

If this has not settled the confusion nor satisfied your curiosity in things Dutch, Netherlandish, Netherlandic, or Hollands, then look here for a discussion that has been taking place since March 2008 with 132 comments and counting.