Dear team …

Siobhan Weaver, Lead Nurse, Children’s Continuing Care Team and 2017 Richard Tompkins Scholar

“Dear Team,

 This week at Herstmonceaux Castle I have been learning about practice development. What I have experienced has been a personal journey of discovery. What I have learnt is that it is people who hold the answers; that using creativity alongside questioning and enquiry will enable great, meaningful and positive learning to happen. I would like to share this with you all.

You can support me by being open minded to what I show you and join in if you feel this is right for you. If you are worried, talk to me and tell me how we can work together to change and learn,

Love Siobhan x”

So this was my starting point as I left that beautiful week that was the FoNS hosted practice development school 2017. I have a job to do, I am ready and energised to make a change in myself. It’s a different kind of energy than I am used to though. It’s not the fizz popping, ‘tigger’ style enthusiasm that I have (occasionally) been known for – you know the one…. the overwhelming, over-riding, million miles an hour and already 10 points ahead energy. If I sit quietly, I can feel it deep within me. It’s a step back and watch energy and I am practicing funnelling it in a completely different way.

So, my starting point … ‘talk to me – I will listen’. Active listening has never been one of my strong points. I know this now because so much of my calm energy is needed at the moment to make sure that I do it well. I am having to physically and mentally concentrate (hard) on doing it. My mind still likes to wander. I find a thought stream can take over and, if left unchecked, will consume my active listening, polishing it off in one swift gulp. I find I sometimes jump in with more directive (closed) questions, which are really just dressed up solutions (solutions, solutions) instead of allowing the silence (sometimes long, sometimes uncomfortable), facilitating the space for the person to find their own answer. I still find that I am more guiding that I really would like, but I am working on it.

‘How are you keeping this up?’ I was asked a few days ago by a colleague. I am writing reflections, nearly every day, for the first time in my nursing career (oh, how I wish I’d listened more thoughtfully to my wonderful personal tutor 20 years ago!). The reflections are personal and cathartic, enabling an exploration of the emotions that I experience on a daily basis …’a step back, to take a step forward’ and hey … better late than never! They are aiding my learning, helping me discover (and rediscover) things that would have remained invisible to me. They create an energy of their own that sustains me and enables me to continue to improve my active listening skills. They are my memory to look back on lest I forget.

Recently I listened to a podcast from the Accidental Creative. Todd Henry shared his thoughts on 3 daily practices that he thinks can improve your life.

1) STUDY everyday (just 20-30 minutes of learning about something important to you),

2) REFLECT on the learning

3) take a WALK to help unlock the creativity in your learning.

I’ve been doing all three of these and I can tell you it’s working for me. My learning is taking me on a wonderful journey – and my ultimate destination? To help co-create the right conditions in the workplace environment to facilitate person-centredness, learning cultures, wellbeing and healthfullness. It feels a big goal to achieve, but every journey starts with just one step and I know it is in the right direction.

Click here to visit the 2018 Practice Development school pages


Our Team Away Day

Liz Green, Clinical Matron, Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital

Balloons popping, eggs breaking, running races, laughter and cheers; that just about sums up the day we had on the F1 away day.

The Patient First Programme enabled me to take my whole team without exception away for the day and gave me the confidence knowledge and skills to facilitate my first session. Nervous laughter and anxious stares started the day as this was a first for many on the team.

To give you some background, I had just merged two teams and moved wards, so as expected, there had been some tensions in the team as we strived to become a united one. I was keen to pull the team together and work with them to develop a shared vision. Many of the team had worked short staffed and under immense pressure for so long that they were burnt out and disengaged.

I pinned all my hopes on this one day but all I could think of was the increasing anxiety I was feeling… I questioned myself and my abilities to facilitate a workshop for over 30 people. Would they be interested, would I be boring, did they trust my leadership? I am not a confident presenter so this was completely out of my comfort zone. However, with Jo by my side for support, as the day went on I felt these doubts fading.

I should never have doubted my team; they were completely engaged, energised and empowered asking questions and coming up with new ideas.

We did ice breakers and then worked in groups looking at personal strengths and how these combined could make a great F1 team of course with the glitter and sparkles that come hand in hand with the Patients First Programme, and even got outside running around. The feedback continued to be positive throughout the day.

As well as looking at how we can use individual skills to make a great team we also launched the #Hello my name iswhich the team embraced and everyone signed up to whole heartedly. To end the day we all wrote a pledge to our patients, ward and each other. These are up on the ward for all patients, staff and visitors to see and many people particularly comment on how much they like them.

I can truly say the team came back inspired and even 3 months on, we are truly a united team supporting each other, growing together in confidence and ‘#hello my name is…’ has really been taken on board.

Yes, it was a challenge to get the whole team out! Yes, I was criticised for doing this by peers when staffing levels are poor. However, I also had some great support and called in some huge favours from friends and colleagues which meant the patients were well looked after in our absence.

This would never have been possible with out the support of the Foundation of Nursing Studies Patient First Programme and in particularly our dedicated Practice Development Facilitator Jo, who got me through the day and has enabled me to have confidence in my abilities to facilitate.

I would advise all teams to do this when they can; the day was invaluable to my team and me. You don’t need lots of money or to go somewhere exciting on an away day, keep it simple, ensure each member of your team feels individually valued and have fun. Enjoy organising your team away days!

Putting Patients and Carers First: A Project to Improve Patient Experience on an Acute Elderly Care Ward‘ is a Patients First Project supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing.