Helen has specific expertise in multiple areas in the healthcare sector. Her depth of knowledge is considerable, drawing from diverse experience such as her licence as an aviator, her formal training in ergonomics and most particularly her enthusiastic participation as a volunteer in many different groups within the ergonomics and human factors profession.
Helen describes her passion for ergonomics and human factors as a ‘way of thinking’ and is passing this perspective to hundreds of students through NHS Education for Scotland, Robert Gordon University and University of Aberdeen. She has contributed professional leadership and scientific and educational expertise to a range of national and international initiatives and collaborations. Furthermore, Helen contributes to a wide range of volunteering opportunities and projects including co-chairing the CIEHF’s Pharmaceutical Sector Group and co-leading the educational development initiatives of the UK-wide LANTERN Network which is strongly connected to the CIEHF’s Healthcare Sector Group.
During 2018, Helen was a key member of the voluntary group which authored the White Paper on Health and Social Care. In 2020-21, Helen played a crucial part in CIEHF’s COVID-19 response including significant input into guidance concerning ventilator design, tracheostomy care and procedures. She also co-authored the Coping with Complexity guidance in liaison with the General Pharmaceutical Council, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Health Education England. This new document was developed to help novice pharmacists as they make the challenging transition from university to the workplace. It explains how human factors can be used to support clinical decision-making.
Helen co-authored two rapidly developed, professional guidance papers which were led by CIEHF and NES in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Design of Work Procedures (April-June 2020) - developed by an international group of experts for health and social care teams. It provides guidelines to design safe and effective work procedures in response to dynamically changing care systems.
- Vaccinating a Nation (January-April 2021) - developed for healthcare organisations and decision-makers on the safe design of COVID-19 vaccination programmes to minimise avoidable harm and organisational risks.
During 2020, Helen was elected onto the Professional Affairs Board where she is leading the initiative for the Healthcare Learning Pathway. She is also an assessor for CPD and membership applications.
Her ability to communicate ergonomics and human factors principles to peers and students has also been recognised – she is Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Adapted from the nomination for this award by Dr Arthur Stewart, Professor Sue Hignett and Dr Paul Bowie
Date of nomination: 24 April 2021