Better partnership working

At the end of last year I was pretty hard at work revising a book series that I was first involved in back in 2008.  At this time I was a series editor and autho

r or co-author on a number of books all broadly related to collaborative working.  These were published by Policy Press and aimed to be short, academically robust, but accessible books for health and social care professionals and students with an interest in partnership working.

Not only was there a learning curve because these were the first books I had ever written, but it also turns out that writing five books at the same time with different co-authors within the space of about 8 months and doing a full time job and a PhD is pretty tricky.  Who would have thought?  Had you told me then that 7 years on I’d go through the same process I would have been pretty surprised (although at least now I have finished my Phd so have less of a workload!).  And yet that is precisely what has happened and mostly because of the reaction of health and social care professionals to the collection.

Writing academic books is often a fairly solitary experience and publishing doesn’t always feel like the ‘big bang’ change that some people often assume that it will be.  I don’t think it is unfair to say that often books can largely go unnoticed by all but a small and specialist community (well until a family member stumbles across you on Amazon and gets a surprise).

What was interesting about this series is that when meeting health and social care professionals in various parts of the UK people would know the books and often had one or more of the set and actually used it in the course of their work.  When going to people’s offices it wasn’t unusual for someone to fish a dog-eared copy out of a desk draw as they spoke about how they had drawn on the various frameworks and tools within.  The books seemed to be genuinely useful to people grappling with the complexities of making collaboration work on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t think this could be a greater compliment given what we set out to achieve.

The series sold fairly well and Policy Press had positive feedback and commissioned us to revise the first book in the series in 2014.  We did this and again it was met with a strong response and a request for the others to revisited and updated.  So in early 2015 I found myself agreeing to revise the remaining four  books in the series and deliver them in a space of about 7 months.

On coming back to the books we realised how much the evidence base and the policy context had moved on – even though many of the same questions remain unanswered fully.  There were also a number of things we were keen to improve on and change – such as a desire to inject a more international flavour into the books.  Given issues over availability of some co-authors and work I’ve done with others of late there have also been some author line-up changes in some places.

The revision of the books actually became less of an update and more of a re-write and most are substantially different as a result.  This made the whole process even more of a challenge again but I think we are pretty happy with the end result and hope that this continues to make the books as relevant today as they proved to be when the first editions were published.

The revised series is available now as a set of books or as individual publications.  The series starts with an introductory book written with Jon Glasby called Partnership Working in Health and Social Care, which provides an introduction to the topic area, an overview of the (mostly) UK policy context and evidence about what makes collaboration work.  Having set out the background the remainder of the books in the series focus on different themes in relation to health and social care collaboration.

With Gemma Carey the focus is on Managing and Leading in Inter-agency Settings, providing an overview of the literature around some of the most talked about critical factors in making collaboration work.  Working in Teams is theme for the book with Robin Miller and Kim Jelphs.  Or I should more accurately say Dr. Robin Miller as he recently successfully defended his PhD thesis.  Dr. Miller recently wrote this blog post on the content of the book.

With Janine O’Flynn the focus is on Evaluating Outcomes in Health and Social Care, focusing on the evidence for collaboration and detail about how to go about assessing the impact and benefit of joint working.  Last but not least is Interprofessional Education and Training with John Carpenter, providing a summary of the key components of the IPE literature and how this supports joint working.

All in all these were a great team to work with as were Policy Press.  I am looking forward to seeing the final books in print (once they finally make it through the Australian postal system) and hope that they prove as useful as the first editions.  Although if we are to be luck enough to be asked for a third edition I hope someone reminds me of this blog post…

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