Wonky days …. and joy at work

I was listening to Zoe Ball’s cheery voice on BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show this week when she asked what sort of day we’re having, she encouraged that if we’re having a ‘wonky day’, hang on in there.

It got me thinking that we all have ‘wonky days’ those days when things get out of sorts for a host of reasons and things get really challenging.

We focused a bit more on this at our Children’s Clinical Board meeting this week. Our clinical board brings nursing, medical and AHP colleagues along with the management team who provide care to CYP and their families/carers together from across all sites, we share best practices, address inequities and encourage each other as we all work to provide outstanding care to the CYP and families/carers we serve. Dr Susie Minson shared the work that along with a fab multi disciplinary team she’s been leading to create ‘joy at work’. There’s more information about the IHI ‘Joy at Work’ approach here ‘Joy in Work | IHI – Institute for Healthcare Improvement’ Some of the things that have been introduced following coproduction and collaboration with staff, have included a monthly divisional shared lunch, improved break areas, starting handover with a reflection on what’s gone well in a shift, small welcome gifts for new starters, thank you notes on one year of service, and adopting the ‘you’ve been mugged’ approach (a lovely mug is filled up with goodies and left for someone to show how much they are appreciated). All approaches have all made a difference in enhancing the community that we all work in. It’s been significant to staff wellbeing and recognises the contribution of staff in providing great care day in day out.

@PaedPDNSRLH shared their gifts to staff on twitter recently ….

There was certainly joy too as I was travelling on the underground this week, the cheeriness of the @TfL staff on the Victoria line made me smile with their fun (slightly bonkers) reminders to keep safe, as weery soggy commuters headed into work. Their unconventional unscripted announcements certainly made me smile and lifted my spirits! It’s often small moments of joy that can make the difference in a challenging day.

So when ‘wonky days’ happen (as they often will!) hang on, look around, seek out a colleague, a smile, and if we’re able to be the provider of that smile, word of encouragement let’s be the ones that offer it, a bit like team TfL and the fab Children’s team at Barts Health 😉

How can we empower nurses?

How can we empower nurses? That’s the February #YearoftheNurseandMidwife blog challenge, it’s a good question that’s got me pondering this week.

Perhaps importantly empowering others starts with ourselves and the actions we can take. I remember last year when Ruth May started as the Chief Nursing Officer of England in January 2019 tweeting about creating #TeamCNO and encouraged others to join in. She set the tone and foundation of a culture aiming to include others, bringing them into the CNO team in an inclusive manner. Such an approach can be highly empowering, it encourages people to play their part and make a contribution to the agenda. Ruth through using twitter and that simple hashtag offered ‘permission’ to join in, to be part of the journey ahead as she works to amplify and celebrate the contribution of nurses and midwives across the NHS and beyond.

Sharing information is another way we can empower nurses. Often I worry about forwarding too much information when people are so busy, but in reality I know people are incredibly adept at filtering information that’s relevant to them. One of the great things about social media is we can share information freely, people can tap into it when it’s convenient to them, using hashtags can help in organising content too. I’m always grateful to colleagues who know which issues matter most to me and tag me in their tweets ensuring I get sight of something they think I’ll be interested in.

Encouraging people to set goals can be helpful too, the fabulous Jane of ‘Quiet the hive’ asks us each week to set our three intentions for the week ahead, sometimes I manage to achieve them, sometimes not, but it’s the thought process, the creation of some time and space that is really helpful. Nurses are busy people, not only in work but at home and in the community too, so we all need a little nudge sometimes to create some reflection space and to create goals or intentions to keep us focused.

Its important we acknowledge we work in highly complex environments, caring for people who are often at their most vulnerable, requiring not only expertise in compassion but also sophisticated technical skills. Sometimes we don’t possess all the knowledge we’d like and we may make mistakes. What’s vital is we share them openly so we can learn and address the issues. I remember as a junior staff nurse working in an incredibly technical environment surrounded by wonderfully competent staff, I constantly gave myself a really hard time about not being the expert I wanted to be and it contributed to me leaving after two years in the role, applying for a more generic post in a less technical environment. Whilst I loved the new job, I do wonder if I’d been kinder to myself and had the recognition from others that whilst I didn’t have their technical expertise, I could bring other things to the team may have made me remain in post longer to acquire the technical expertise others seemingly possessed? Colleagues and teams can be hugely influential in creating empowering environments in which we can flourish.

This week on twitter a great infographic was shared…

It seems to bring some key actions together, having a spirit of optimism, setting out a vision of what ‘best’ looks like, growing collaborations, being ‘human kind’, and having a belief in people’s potential. If we universally and consistently adopted theses approaches I wonder what impact it would have on empowering nurses and midwives?

Pondering on partnerships, dialogue and engagement …

It’s been a busy few weeks, I’m particularly in awe of clinical colleagues who keep delivering direct patient care with compassion and professionalism in the busiest of times.

Sometimes though the activity can seem quite overwhelming, the talented and insightful artist ‪@charliemackesy‬ posted this message on Instagram, encouraging us to just take the next step forward, a simple but important message especially when things can seem overwhelming.

I’ve also been thinking about how we all communicate with each other in organisations and grow dialogue about important complex issues, exploring and understanding challenges is one of the most important elements of our roles. The ever inspiring ‪@Sonia_Sparkles ‬ posted this fabulous graphic about the essentials of understanding problems rather than simply reaching for solutions.

This communication is often badged as ‘staff engagement’ and it’s clear we can never do enough of it between staff delivering direct patient care and those in managerial roles. Dialogue needs to be vertical and horizontal and we can all play a part in growing a culture that reaches out, explores issues together, so that we can discover shared solutions to move things forward.

Yet the reality it in the business and requirement to ‘get stuff done’ to keep on top of things it can be challenging to keep engaging ….. then Charlie posted this….

Perhaps a reminder that every conversation is a step in the right direction 😉

Supporting staff engagement and wellbeing comes through in this ‘quintuple’ model of Population Health Management, which extends the original triple aim model of focusing on best use of resources, improving population health outcomes along with enhancing experiences, along with highlighting the needs to actively address health inequalities, it’s always helpful to have a map as we journey onwards!

Saying goodbye to #REDJanuary2020

So it’s here! Day 31 of #REDJanuary or ‘Run Every Day January’

#REDJanuary is a movement started in 2016 by Hannah Beecham who saw the positive difference physical exercise made to her mum who experienced depression when she encouraged her to be more active. She clearly wanted to encourage others to experience the same benefits. With 1 in 4 of us experiencing mental health issues, suicide being the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK and research overwhelmingly confirming the benefits of physical exercise on not only our physical health but our emotional wellbeing, putting the spotlight of the impact of being more active is hugely welcomed. Since 2017 the charity MIND have also supported @REDJanuary, encouraging people to fundraise too to help raise awareness of mental health during January often a particularly challenging time of year for people.,

So alongside #NHS1000miles, @REDJanuary provided a focus for getting me out each morning in the darkness of January mornings prior to work for a gentle jog, and my weekends have offered the chance for a bit of @ParkRun tourism, and Sundays have included adventures with the Long Distance Walkers Association @LDWA, a local 10miler, cross country, and a navigational 50k ultra from ‘Cold Christmas to High Easter’. It’s certainly been an active month!

Am I fast? no! Have I had fun, and raised my endorphins regularly to boost my mood during the dark days of January, most definitely!

Thank you Hannah, #REDJanuary has certainly helped me keep a focus on being active this month!

Shaping our nursing story

I had the pleasure last week of meeting a new group of staff beginning their qualified children’s nursing careers, it made me think about how we shape our professional stories? Together we explored our passion for nursing others, the difference we want to make to Child Health by caring for our tiniest babies, to working in special schools supporting children with complex disabilities to flourish and thrive, to working in safeguarding, in ED, Paediatric Assessment units, to working internationally, supporting mental health and working specifically with young people, the list was endless. The opportunities available to Children’s Nurses to make a difference are phenomenal and the enthusiasm to do so displayed by the team was infectious!

So what are tips that can help us fulfil our dreams to improve child health and grow our contribution throughout our careers?

Taking the time and creating the space to think about the future is worth the investment. I love the idea of creating a vision board, drawing or writing down our goals, exploring the path ahead and what will help along the way. Seeking out inspiration, from people, events, visits, books, podcasts etc can all help broaden our horizons to develop this vision. I chatted about the benefits of social media in expanding our professional connections. Continuing to progress growth in our knowledge through pursing masters and PhD programmes are important as we work to enhance nursing practice, all these opportunities are ours to pursue.

Investing in self care through focusing on wellbeing, nutrition, exercise, sleep and having fun, are all important too, so that we focus on creating balance in our stories, we could call it personal social prescribing! Better to do it prophylactically rather than as a reaction when things go wrong. I love running and having just listened to Ian Mortimer’s ‪@IanJamesFM‬ book ‘Why Running Matters’ on @ukaudible, Ian confirms the importance of running, it offers head space to ponder on things, come up with new ideas and importantly work out solutions as well as ensuring we’re physically and mentally fit for our roles.

Life is of course complex, during our careers there’ll be many ups and downs, yet facing our fears, seeking help and giving help to others too, can support us in succeeding, along with plenty of practice and perseverance! No matter what, we are never alone, someone will have always faced similar challenges, we just need to keep reaching out.

So no matter how far we are through our careers together we can keep finding ways to succeed. Continuing to improve children’s health and wellbeing is a important challenge that needs a diverse and talented workforce, Children’s Nurses have an important contribution to make, so let’s continue to step forward, embrace opportunities and shape the future.

As I was reflecting on this blog ‪@LeighAKendall‬ shared this via twitter, it serves as a great reminder, keep trying, take one step at a time, importantly know you’re never alone.

Connecting and remarkable people #AdsTalk2020

I’ve been reflecting recently on connecting and networking, New Year meetings often provide an opportunity to step back, refocus and remember the importance of reaching out for new ideas and inspiration.

I often remember Jo Cox, she’s a woman who inspired me and her memory continues to do so, the book written in her memory ‘More in Common’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1473659183/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_3SchEb1TXSWHQ is well worth a read. Jo believed in tackling loneliness and isolation, the Jo Cox foundation @JoCoxFoundation continues to champion this agenda.

Whilst we think of loneliness as something that older people experience, in reality it’s something that can affect everyone from across the age continuum from the play ground in school to isolation in the workplace. The NHS Youth Forum speak of loneliness in young people, establishing their peer support campaign to tackle this https://www.byc.org.uk/uk/nhs-youth-forum/peer-support

I’ve often heard people remark how lonely it be can sometimes be when complex decisions and actions are needed, and whilst we all work in teams in NHS, reaching out and networking can decrease loneliness, enhance and develop ideas which ultimately leads to better, richer decisions and outcomes. Spending time connecting and networking is worth the investment, even if the day job can be all consuming!

This week I was able to catch up the ‘wonderful women of ASCEND’ we had a breakfast catch up at Kings Cross. An inspiring colleague Lisa Anderson ‪@lilyand67‬ asked us to describe our 2019’s in one word, mine was ‘muddlesome’ I was slightly more optimistic about 2020 wanting it to be ‘pursposeful’. Part of making 2020 purposeful for me will be about continuing to connect with others.

So I’d like to share an opportunity that’s coming up! The 5th AdsTalk: ‘Shining a light: How patients’ voices can have a positive influence’, (#AdsTalk2020) will be on Mon, 16 March 2020 12:00 – 15:00 GMT at NHS ENgland’s Headquarters, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London, SE1 6LH. This year it will be given by Lucy Watts (@LucyAlexandria) & Amy Frounks (@AmyFrounks) and chaired by Rob Webster (@NHS_RobW).

Lucy Watts MBE is a young adult with a life-limiting condition. A passionate advocate for patients, especially those with complex health needs, life-limiting conditions, needing palliative care and young people in transition, Lucy has proved herself a formidable voice in healthcare. A member of the NHS Assembly, various committees, running patient involvement and advocacy groups and working closely with a number of charities, Lucy was awarded an MBE at the tender age of 22 and was recently voted 9th most influential disabled person in Britain. Lucy aspires always to make a difference and use her experiences constructively to benefit others.

Amy Frounks has been a patient and youth voice advocate since 2013, striving to improve representation of less heard groups, particularly children and young people with disabilities and/or health conditions. Some of her roles in participation have included: CAMHS participation, NHS England Youth Forum, Young CDC, RCPCH & Us. Amy was also a young advisor for Common Room, where she co-facilitated CYP Me First training to a variety of health care professionals.

Rob Webster, Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Lead Chief Executive West Yorkshire and Harrogate ICS, will chair the event and host a discussion of the issues raised and the opportunity to network.

You can book your free ticket here http://intheblinkofaneyepoemsbyadambojelian.blogspot.com/2019/12/adstalk20-bookings-are-now-open_3.html do come and join us and be inspired by remarkable people!

In the meantime if you fancy a great podcast on networking, download Anchor and take a listen to fabulous Jane Galloway of @quiet_the_hive https://anchor.fm/cats-pajamas/episodes/Cats-Pajamas-Convos-with-Jane-Galloway-e8e6kl

How will I shape the year of the Nurse (and Midwife!) #NurseBloggers

I came across a tweet this week from ‪@BloggersNurse‬ asking … ‘how will you shape the year of the Nurse?’ What a great challenge!

So here goes…

I’m really excited by the potential of celebrating the year of the nurse and midwife in 2020. It offers an opportunity to demonstrate clearly the contribution nursing brings to the health and wellbeing of society at a global level.

It’ll be my 32nd year of being a nurse in 2020. I started my RGN training in October 1988 in Cardiff and ever since I have been challenged and stimulated by being part of an amazing profession that focuses on serving others, through the provision of competent and compassionate care, supporting individuals, families, and communities in achieving optimal health and quality of life.

My buckle (as was the fashion then) which my parents bought for me when I qualified proudly displayed the Welsh 3 feathers ‘ich dien’ ‘I serve’, it’s a motto that has been a golden thread throughout my career.

One of the things I most enjoy as a nurse is being part of a healthcare team, the variety of people we work with to meet needs is vast, porters, domestics, caterers, admin staff, maintenance staff, scientists, AHPs, medics, managers, the list is endless! Its the collaboration and partnerships with others whilst embracing the nursing contribution to meet people’s needs of all ages, their families/carers and communities that 2020, the year of the nurse celebrates.

Whilst I loved general nursing it became clear that Children’s nursing was my real passion and after 2 years on a general paediatric ward at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, I left for London, to study at the Charles West School of Nursing becoming a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse (RSCN). As a result my nursing career has focused on child health.

So in the year of the Nurse I’m really keen that we amplify and celebrate the contribution nurses make to neonates, children, young people and their families/carers, whether in the community as health visitors, School Nurses, Community Children’s Nurses, Continuing Care Services, Children’s Hospice and respite services, or in mental health settings, in hospital settings in EDs, outpatients, theatres, PICUs, on wards. Nurses who focus on the care of children really are everywhere, serving 25% of the population alongside their families/carers. I am always particularly inspired by the range of Clinical Nurse Specialists who focus on expert care provision to neonates, children and young people with complex and ongoing health needs, including those supporting safeguarding and providing nursing leadership to children who are ‘Looked After’ by local authorities.

So along with many others I’ll be amplifying the contribution of nurses in child health in the year ahead. I’m hoping other Nurses working with Children will share their professional journey in 2020 and inspire others with the amazing difference they make to society.

So I’m asking fellow Nurses who work with Children in all areas of practice to write a blog, it doesn’t need to be long, please share the role you do and why you love it, I’m happy to publish it here on my blog site if you’d like 😉.