27 April, 2015

COHEHRE revisited

Let's reassess, one year on !
With that motto in mind I took off for Budapest to participate in the Cohehre conference on Health and Social Care Perspectives for a Sustainable Future, which included the subthemes of: 
• Innovative and sustainable teaching for health and social care education 
• Global partnerships for health and social care education 
• New challenges in health and social care services 
• Equity in health and social care
About a year earlier I wrote in my blog here that for our school of social work the Cohehre network was probably not such an interesting option to invest in. Well, this year's edition of the conference turned me around.
I was pleasantly surprised by more social care & social work perspectives and input. Clearly, seeds had been sown and efforts had been made to pay more attention to social practices and studies. 
This year interprofessional learning (IPL), a term I picked up during the conference, was highlighted , especially through the keynote speaker on day 1, Blair Stevenson. Stimulating us to think about innovations in education, his main message was that there's been hardly anything new under the sun in education, except for cooperating in multidisciplinary teams of students on new ideas and products. He asked the audience to imagine what it would be like to bring together students from health and social work and have them collaborating on a prototype together with business and graphical design students. In posing this question he set the scene for the conference for me. The Cohehre network can indeed be considered a powerful catalyst in European interprofessional training for intervention practices and reflection. And while attending different workshops and sessions scattered across the following two days that impression stuck with me. Cohehre is definitely not a network for people with a silo mentality.
Meanwhile, students from health care and social work course programmes had already been working intensively on the theme of Diversity and Inclusion.  Interestingly, they  applied the method of "city exploration", a wonderful "learning-by-doing" strategy on which I wrote in an earlier blog post here
On the last day they were to share their findings and present their joint work to all the conference delegates, among them their own lecturers. From their enthusiastic presentations it was obvious that lots had been learned in a week's time and that the experience had fostered their interprofessional and intercultural understanding. 
On another positive note, the Cohehre network appears to be steadily evolving, not only in numbers, but also by producing a rich and growing menu of opportunities for students and staff alike. Additionally, the network is also involved in new Erasmus + projects, adding knowledge and expertise to the network.

Riding back on the bus to the airport, I concluded that I was not disappointed, using typically British understatement. The conference programme, the relaxing atmosphere of Budapest and all of our hosts at Semmelweis University, who had shown us what Hungarian hospitality was like, substantially added to the success of the conference.