(or…..My New Year’s resolution to support better staff experiences in 2014)
Its a New Year, and a chance to reflect on what could make 2014 a better year than the one that has just gone. That’s not to say that 2013 was a bad year per se, but ever the optimist, I believe in looking forward (with the odd backward glance to make sure I remember where I have just come from), dreaming about how things could be different and better, and then working out what I need to do differently to make it happen.
Two recent events have helped me to think about my 2014 resolution for better staff experiences for us all here in NHS Dumfries and Galloway. The first was that I had the chance in December to celebrate a significant birthday (very personal, so please don’t ask for the details) with a trip to New York. It was in all aspects perfect – snow, blue sky and sunshine, Christmas decorations everywhere, and above all, a community of New Yorkers with a common goal and a strong culture who obviously pull together to make a city that is welcoming, vibrant, safe and exciting – and a place to be proud of.
The second was a hugely successful joint Area Partnership Forum and Area Clinical Forum conference in the Autumn when we worked together to consider the Francis report, and the issues arising from it relating to culture, values and behaviours of staff within the NHS. The conference was, in places, powerfully personal, and many staff members shared experiences, good and bad, that demonstrated the intrinsic link between staff experience and the experience of our patients when in our care. This was further reinforced at the most recent Scottish Person Centred Care Learning set which was the subject of a blog in December, and really got me thinking (again) and excited (all over again) about, staff experience, and what makes the difference between a great day and one best left behind at the end of the shift.
Both of these experiences have in their background and context some difficult stuff; New York will never forget the date 9-11, and NHS England (and probably Scotland too) will take years to recover fully the confidence of patients following the tragic events reported in the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. But both of these situations also show how communities can grow and be stronger as a result, by having both the skill and the will to learn from what has happened, and getting to the heart of the values, beliefs and behaviours that will ensure it is different for the future.
And so to my New Years resolution; as they say in New York, I want staff to ‘Have a nice day!’ and I’m going to get really focused on how best I can help to make that happen over the next 12 months. In the wake of Francis, 2014 is definitely the year for improving staff experience alongside patient experience – let’s not settle for one only when, with a little imagination and care we can achieve both, and in so doing enhance the health and wellbeing of ourselves (staff) as well as our patients and clients, and build a more resilient and stronger working community that is ready to take on the challenges of 2014 and beyond.
And my starting point in looking forward? A little reflection of course! In 2007, the APF and ACF worked collaboratively for perhaps the first time to produce RESPECT – Our Code of Positive Behaviour. Its simple. It just asks each of us, every day in every interaction to;
*Recognise our Responsibilities – in our role and to each other; and acknowledge that each of us contribute to shaping the culture, values and behaviours (good or poor) we all experience every day, and pass on to our patients and clients in each interaction with them
*Value Equality and diversity – we are all different and we all have something valuable to contribute
*Be Supportive and understanding – using our talents to support and develop others and our challenges and mistakes to learn and improve ourselves
*Give, and receive Positive feedback – valuing those around us in a positive and dignified way, and making sure they know we value them
*Develop and work in Effective teams – always striving to improve trust, relationships and performance for the benefit of those we care for
*Strengthen our Communication – open, honest, clear and timely, with listening as a key skill to learn and practice every day
*And finally, build a culture of zero Tolerance – none of us should tolerate poor or inappropriate behaviour and we should all feel confident to challenge it and support colleagues and the organisation to improve whenever and wherever we come across it.
And when you add it all up?
‘Have a nice day’ = RESPECT – a code of positive behaviour
Its simple – I agree. However, this code still feels as relevant to me in 2014 as it did when it was first developed in 2007. And the ambition and focus for improvement in staff experience feels much more real, and more connected to our ambitions around patient experience now than it has ever felt before, and so I am feeling optimistic that 2014 will be a good year for us in our NHS staff community to really pull together, to make experiences for patients and staff that that are welcoming, safe and person centred – an experience that we will be proud of.
Best wishes for 2014, good luck with your own New Year’s resolution and I look forward to working with all of you to help me ‘Have a nice day’!
Caroline Sharp is the Workforce Director at NHS Dumfries and Galloway