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Jennifer Thomas


1st December 2023


Moray Digital Health & Care SkillsFest - creating R&D capacity for the region

On Thursday 23rd November, the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre's (DHI’s) Rural Centre of Excellence for digital health and care innovation delivered its first R&D skills-related event, hosted by UHI Moray in Elgin. More than 70 people attended this event, the focus of which was exploring the nature of R&D and the transformative impact of digital innovation, supporting digital health and care research and development, and ensuring the local workforce have the skills and capabilities to assist in the innovation process and make use of the impactful innovation across Moray.

Setting the Scene: DHI’s Rural Centre of Excellence for Digital Health and Care Innovation Project

The focal point of the gathering was DHI’s Rural Centre of Excellence for digital health and care innovation (RCE) project in Moray - a £5 Million capital investment from the UK Government, delivered through the Moray Growth Deal.  The project's mission is clear: to retain and attract young talent and families to the Moray region, creating high-quality jobs and securing the future of its citizens. Key to achieving this is the delivery of additional educational opportunities, courses, and skills provision, addressing the growing demand for a workforce adept in digital health and care.

Unveiling Opportunities and Challenges

The event not only explored the local impact of digital transformation in Moray but also considered broader Scotland-wide challenges and opportunities.  The morning session opened with an introduction from opening remarks by Janette Hughes (Director of Planning and Performance, DHI) and Fiona Fraser (Associate Director of Innovation & Workforce Diversification, NHS Education for Scotland) followed by a scene-setting presentation by Sanna Rimpiläinen (Head of Research and Skills, DHI).

Attendees then had the privilege of hearing from a diverse lineup of speakers discussing the digital skills and competencies required by health and care employers.  This panel was chaired by Janette from DHI and included Simon Bokor-Ingram, (Chief Officer, Moray Health and Social Care Partnership); Stephen Sheridan (Regional Skills Planning Lead, Skills Development Scotland); Gerry Lawrie (Head of Workforce & Development, NHS Grampian); Andy Ord (Account Director – Health, Care & Safety Scotland, Microsoft) and Fiona Fraser.

Valuable insights were also provided from the educator’s perspective from a panel chaired by Sanna that included Rosemary McCormack (Head of Curriculum, UHI Moray); Ruth Cochrane (Academic Lead, Glasgow School of Art’s Innovation School); Dylan White (Principal Lead, NHS Youth Academy); Nicola Cooper (Technology & Digital Innovation Lead, Scottish Care) and Professor Plinio Morita from the University of Waterloo in Canada - with each speaker contributing a unique perspective on the changing landscape of digital health and care.

The afternoon workshops allowed attendees to learn how digital technologies (including telepresence robots and Artificial Intelligence - AI) can support individuals' health and care needs, with Scott MacLeod from the National Robotarium inviting people to interact with care robots and explain their potential applications in care settings and Calum McDonald from the Scottish AI Alliance discussing the ethical considerations surrounding AI in the context of health and care.  There was also a session facilitated by DHI to demystify the concept of a Personal Data Store and provide a deeper understanding of how personal data can be managed, stored, and utilised, and an introduction to newly developed micro-credentials tailored for carers living and working in Moray by UHI Moray staff.  Finally, representatives from Microsoft delivered a masterclass for individuals seeking employment opportunities or contemplating a career change by providing insights into the latest trends in the job market, as well as giving tailored guidance on crafting an impactful resume, honing interview skills, and leveraging digital tools for professional development.

Looking Ahead: What's Next on the Journey?

The event wasn't just a static gathering of information; it was a dynamic platform for sharing best practices and fostering collaboration. Representatives from a wide range of organisations (including the NHS, Skills Development Scotland, Moray Council, UHI, the Scottish AI Alliance, Microsoft, and more) were present, emphasizing the importance of stakeholders learning from one another and working together to propel the digital health and care sector forward.

Join the Conversation: Shaping the Future of Digital Health and Care

As the event concluded, participants were encouraged to contribute to discussions about the skills needed for the future and to contemplate the next steps on the journey toward a digitally advanced health and care sector in Moray and beyond.  In essence, the SkillsFest event served as a catalyst for envisioning and actively participating in the transformative journey toward a digitally empowered future in health and care.

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