Recently I met with staff from across the Trust in the latest of my coffee mornings. These sessions are a great opportunity for me to understand what is going on within your areas, and how the executive team might be able to offer support.
Ahead of the bank holiday period, a hot topic for discussion was what additional staffing plans each area had in place. During this discussion, a common theme raised was the issue of Enhanced Care provision and the challenges vacant shifts presented across all areas. Whilst we have no immediate plans to employ more Enhanced Care Workers, I recognise the risk that may be associated with these vacant shifts and I will be working closely with the Director of Nursing Quality and Patient Safety, Julie Lane, to understand how we might be able to use existing resource more effectively.
I was delighted to hear about an initiative that the surgery team have started, that will see the introduction of Health Care Assistant Forums. These will be used as an opportunity to provide skills and development sessions for HCAs working within the Trust, demonstrating how valued this staff group are and just how invested our organisation is. Some examples of sessions covered include cannulation and customer service skills. Another great initiative spoken about was the rotation of Staff Nurses between different ward areas, something currently being piloted on a two month basis. I heard from a Staff Nurse who is taking part in the pilot and, though sceptical at first, is really enjoying the experience and sees the value added to her current role.
I spoke with a Senior Clinical Matron from ITU whose department has recently been through a programme of internal accreditation, an initiative the Trust is currently launching across services. The process will allow areas to reflect on their current pathways, receiving a positive critique which will allow them to make further improvements, ultimately receiving a gold / silver / bronze accreditation. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – it allows you to take a step back, assess your current way of working and change direction where required. As these accreditations are rolled out across the organisation, I want you all to make sure that you are voicing the great work you are doing – sell your successes and share your good work.
I was also keen to use the opportunity to discuss current complaints within the organisation, and what common themes we are finding across the system. A deep dive analysis has shown that patients with learning disabilities do not feel they are receiving the expected level of care. This isn’t necessarily about physical patient care, but about additional considerations that staff don’t always put in place every time. This prompted an interesting discussion with one of the ward matrons from the Short Stay Unit, an area that is going above and beyond to provide adjustments for those living with learning disabilities. The deputy ward matron for the area has pulled together a ‘Good Practice Guide’ and a list of ten reasonable adjustments that clinicians should put in place for the relevant patients. This is an excellent example of tailoring treatment to improve patient experience and quality of care. The documents can be found in the Communications and Marketing Sharepoint page under Important Documents, and I would encourage you all to familiarise yourself with them.
I spoke with staff about how we might be able to help shape the future of nursing, and what innovation might look like if we are looking to influence at a university education level. The role of a nurse is continuously changing, more academia is coming into the role and it’s important that we harness this change to influence at a national level. I want us to reflect on how we might influence outwardly from a public health perspective. Healthcare is no longer about the bricks and mortar. It’s about providing care in the right place, at the right time and taking on the responsibility of providing patients with the tools to self-care. I have heard time and time again from clinicians who are concerned that patient profiles are not changing enough, in fact, we are seeing the effects of alcohol and drug addiction evident in patients more than ever before. There are no barriers to alcohol consumption, there is no stigma attached to alcohol consumption and public perception is making it more socially acceptable than ever before. We need to break down the social barriers and influence our public to influence their behaviours before they become an addiction.
That took the focus of the discussion into the recent appointment of Head of Communications and Marketing, Ruth Dalton. With a specific marketing background, Ruth will focus on supporting the organisation to meet its wider objectives – giving greater exposure to areas of excellence and leading behaviour change campaigns for our communities. We have a duty of care to explore how we can pro-actively manage the health of our population, contributing to the wider prevention agenda. If you have stories of innovation in your area, or key health messages you would like to promote, please do get in touch with the team. As the landscape changes, health messaging is a huge focus for the Trust and we need to work together to make it as effective as possible.