Endings…………and new beginnings by Ken Donaldson & Julie White

By Ken Donaldson

For anyone working for NHS D&G it is unlikely that you have failed to recognise that at the end of the year some of us will be moving in to a new hospital. I am aware this will not directly effect those of you who work in the community or services that are not moving across to the new site but it is likely to have some impact. This is an exciting time; the building itself will be quite spectacular and it offers lots of opportunities for change.

3367921_a75008e7That change is coming is apparent. In December we will move to the new site and whilst I am quietly terrified at the prospect of this move it is not what this blog is about. Nor do I want to talk about change but its accompanying partner, transition. So what is the difference? Well change is situational, the physical move, how we will get all the equipment, beds and kit across to the shiny new building. Its how we move the patients and ourselves and, then, start to work in the new environment. This may sound like a transition but its not the same thing. Transition is psychological, how we actually deal with this momentous move.

Transition

unknownWe have all been through transition before; starting a new job, moving house, taking a newborn baby home for the first time. And although you may not realise it you have gone through a process during that transition. There are three broad stages to transition. First we ‘let go’ of the old ways then we enter a ‘neutral zone’, where we are neither doing the old or the new, and finally we have a ‘new beginning’. If we take the newborn baby example then we can see that whilst there are so many wonderful aspects of bringing your first baby home there are also many things that we have to let go; a good nights sleep, a significant amount of money and the freedom to just go away for the weekend to name a few. Most people just get on with it and accept the losses but others can struggle. The neutral zone may be brief but still exists, often at 2am! As the dust settles and visitors stop coming so often and reality sinks in. This is it now, no going back. After that the new beginning as we settle in and accept the new way of life. The transition process is different for all of us and for some may happen very quickly, over days. However for others it may take a lot longer. Sometimes just knowing that this is a process can help.

Letting go

This stage can feel akin to bereavement. The emotions we go through are similar and the ‘Transition curve’ is to all intents and purposes identical to the ‘Grieving curve’ or stages of bereavement. When we know change is coming (as we do right now) then we can enter a state of denial which is entirely normal and hopefully doesn’t last too long. This is followed by anger, bargaining, anxiety, depression before being followed by understanding, acceptance and moving on. Not everyone experiences these emotions and some are fleeting but the reality is that they will all be manifest in our teams to varying degrees as the move to the new hospital approaches and ultimately happens. There is not a vast amount that can be done to deal with this process other than recognise it and support each other through it but small gestures can help; we want to remember the ‘old’ hospital so what can we take other than memories? Perhaps you can make up a photograph album for your area or ensure that some memorable artefacts (posters, pictures, the Ward Gonk) are not forgotten and adorn the new environment.

The neutral zone

bridges-3-phases-of-transitionSo this unusually named area, like something out of Superman (okay, that was the Phantom Zone and was in Supergirl; the neutral zone was, apparently, in Star Trek, but I’m no Trekkie) is a bit of a psychological no-mans land. It is the time when the old way has gone but the new way does not feel comfortable yet. It is important to recognise this zone and not try to rush through it prematurely. Its also important not to be frightened of it and try to escape i.e. get a new job. People do this frequently and it is rarely the right thing for them or the organisation. Finally, recognising this area and staying with it is important because it is often the time of real innovation and a chance to revitalise our services. The neutral zone is an area of opportunity, a chance to replace old habits with new ones more suited to the new environment.

A new beginning

July Photo SiteNew beginnings are much more than starts. We will ‘start’ in the new hospital the Monday after the migration when the majority of staff and all patients have moved. And we will get on with it, of that I have no doubt. It is going to be a real challenge coping with the move then a few weeks later the Christmas/New Year double whammy and THEN January! But I suspect the majority of us will still be in a neutral zone just coming to terms with the new environment and will not yet have made the new beginning. Starts involve new situations, beginnings involve new understandings, new values, new attitudes and new identities. This can take time and may take longer as we will be extremely busy just keeping the new hospital functioning but, again, its important we recognise that it has to happen. If we don’t move to the new beginning then we can hold our team back, sound like a stuck record “It wouldn’t have happened like this in the old hospital” etc.

ginThere is no doubt the next 6 months will be hard. There will be increasing visits to the new DGRI and next month the structure will be complete and we will have ‘the keys’. I suspect December will loom ever larger on the horizon as the migration and all that entails becomes a reality. As I said above I am positive that we will just get on with it and things will work out fine, albeit there are bound to be some bumps along the way. But I think it is important that we recognise the psychological impact on all of us involved in the move. It will have a massive impact on our lives and if we understand just a little of why we are feeling the way we most certainly will feel then that may help us all get through it. That and looking out for each other, remembering to be kind and a smidgen of gin.

 

By Julie White

We are now only weeks away from our staff and patients being able to experience the benefits of a modern, state of the art hospital which will enable us to continue to provide the highest possible standards of care to our patients in the 21st Century. However this change means a significant transition for many of us. Transition has been defined as any event, or non-event, that results in changed relationships, routines or roles. (Schlossberg, N 1995) The move to the new hospital will mean changes to routines, working relationships and roles for a large group of our staff. However, we all go through transitions, big and small, as part of our everyday lives. How we deal with these transitions is important……
Right now, for me and my family, we are going through a transition which will be familiar to many. My 11 year old son, Adam, is just about to undergo the transition from primary to secondary school. Whilst the school have worked hard to prepare him for this move, Adam is having to ‘let go’ of the comfort blanket of primary school, being one of the ‘big boys’ and having the security of a well-known routine and the familiar faces of teachers and pupils. I am also having to ‘let go’ and accept that Adam is becoming more independent (even allowing him to walk to the end of the road to catch the bus to Lockerbie!). This transition is huge for both of us, for different reasons.
I recognise, however, that we are entering a new phase and there is no going back now. I have to admit, however, I am far more nervous about the future than Adam is – he has the fantastic ability to see this as an adventure, an opportunity to learn new things and make new friends. He also particularly liked the lunches at the Academy when he visited which is always good news for an 11 year old boy!!!. I am anxious about the move to a much larger school, worried that he will need to make new friends (whom I won’t initially know) and that our very close relationship may change as he nears the teenage years!!. I know, however, that I will do everything I can to make this transition a success as I will do with another major transition in my life – the move to the new hospital.
July Photo SiteIt is less than 4 weeks until we ‘get the keys’ to the new hospital and we can begin our commissioning and migration process. Feedback from staff who have had the opportunity to visit has been overwhelmingly positive. All staff will have the opportunity to visit for orientation sessions between September and the end of November (if you haven’t booked a slot yet please do so!).
Whilst the move to a brand new state of the art hospital will be an exciting prospect for many, it is important to recognise that for some staff, the move will evoke emotions such as fear, loss, anxiety and sadness. We have lots of staff who have spent most of their working lives in DGRI (some of whom have worked in the same ward or clinical area for 20 years or more) and we cannot underestimate the scale of the transition for lots of us. Some staff will also have memories of being a patient (or having friends and family members cared for in the existing hospital) and we have a general attachment to the past, to our history here and to our memories of the good times. I would encourage staff to think of ways of ensuring that you and your teams don’t forget the good times and take photos and memorable artefacts with you. The new build team will also be ensuring that some of the treasured artwork from our existing hospital is incorporated in the new DGRI eg the tree of life. I am sure we will all create new memories and have good times in the new hospital but it’s important not to forget the past.
In order to help with the transition process, we are planning a couple of events to celebrate our new beginning and to recognise the varied emotions that people will experience.. We will hold our annual Winter Service at Crichton Church with a theme of “ new beginnings”. I also hope to hold an event in the Atrium of the new hospital soon after the move to acknowledge the huge amount of work undertaken by staff, celebrate the fact that we have had a safe, successful and smooth move (which I am confident we will achieve by pulling together) and to focus on our future in our new surroundings. If anyone has any ideas about how else we could mark our transition, please get in touch.
I would also like to acknowledge that not everyone in the current hospital will move to the new facility. Some staff will choose to retire or leave but other teams will be moving to Mountainhall Treatment Centre (Cresswell to us all just now!) and I fully appreciate that these teams will experience different emotions when the move to the new DGRI takes place. We will work hard to ensure that we support all staff during this transition and it would be great to hear people’s thoughts about how they can best be supported during this time.

 

Julie White is Chief Operating Officer and Ken Donaldson is Deputy Medical Director Acute Services at NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

References

Bridges, William. Managing Transitions. 3rd ed. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2009.

Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth. On Death & Dying. Scribner, 2014.

Improving Patient Flow by Chris Isles

Dave Pedley gave an excellent talk two Wednesdays ago on Tackling Crowding in Emergency Departments, triggered no doubt by the number of times recently we have been running at 100% bed occupancy with patients sitting in chairs in the Emergency Department because there were no free cubicles.

The nightmare scenario for us all as the clock ticks inexorably towards December 2017 is that the same thing happens when our fabulous new hospital opens and the TV cameras, newspapers and journalists begin to salivate at the prospect that something goes wrong (there will be no story to report if the transition to the new hospital goes smoothly and there are no corridor patients).

The chances that something could go wrong are actually quite high and the problem is almost entirely medical by which I mean the large number of frail older people living precariously in the community who fall, become immobile, incontinent or delirious and require at least some form of assessment but often admission to hospital.

The omens are not good.  Dumfries and Galloway has the second highest proportion of people in Scotland who are aged 75+ and living alone.  Our Health Intelligence Unit have shown that despite numerous initiatives and new ways of doing things the Medical Unit would be sailing perilously close to 100% bed occupancy if we moved into the new hospital today. (See me previous blog on the new hospital here)

During his talk Dr Pedley showed a powerful 5 minute video by Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset entitled Tackling Exit Block ie their hospital’s inability to move patients through ED because of numerous interrelated system failures.  (https://youtube/WX1YwKIkWzA).  Musgrove Park ‘s Top Ten Reasons Why People Cant Leave Hospital were as follows:

  1. Discharge delayed so patient can have lunch
  2. Carer/relative can’t pick them up till after work
  3. Nurses too busy looking after other patients to arrange discharge
  4. Waiting for transport or refusing to leave without free transport
  5. Waiting for pharmacy
  6. Waiting for ward round
  7. Waiting for blood or scan results
  8. Waiting for discharge letters
  9. Packages of care planned for late afternoon/early evening
  10. Patient doesn’t want to go to the assigned bed in community hospital

During discussion a number of solutions to our own recurrent difficulties with patient flow were proposed.  These included tackling all of the above in addition to attempting to educate the public about when and when not to attend ED.  My own view is that this might be as fruitless as King Canute sitting in his throne on the beach and attempting to stop the incoming tide on the grounds that any patient who comes up to ED and is prepared to wait up to 4 hours and possibly more to see a doctor or a nurse must feel they have a very good reason to be there (one often quoted reason being that they could not get an appointment to see their GP).

There were some illuminating moments.  We asked Patsy Pattie whether Dynamic Daily Discharge was still as effective as it had been when it was first rolled out.  She replied that some wards needed support on embedding the process.  Dr Pedley praised staff for their firefighting skills on those occasions when patients were unable to access cubicles in ED which prompted Philip Jones, our chairman, to say that a corporate rather than firefighting response was needed.  Many heads nodded in agreement.

A corporate response might mean fixing lots of little things in order to make patients flow through the system more speedily.  Dynamic Daily Discharge could then become an established part of ward routine rather than an optional extra; the paperwork in the medical assessment area might need to be simplified to allow nurses to move patients into the body of the ward more quickly; a nurse on each ward might be designated to carry the ward phone rather than allow it to ring endlessly in the hope that someone else will pick it up; clinical teams would actively consider how patients might get home;  consider community detox for alcohol withdrawal; patients earmarked for discharge might move to the dayroom unless physically unable to do so; hospital taxis might take people home if relatives or patient transport cannot do so; patients could be issued with a prescription to take to their local pharmacy if new medications are required or go home with immediate discharge letter to follow if not.

To these solutions I would add fully funded Ambulatory Emergency Care and Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment services together with more and better social care and a commitment to fill the hospital with more staff on public holidays (of which there will be four within one month of the new hospital opening).

The Chief Executive of Musgrove Hospital finished her contribution to the Exit Block video by saying ‘we need every single member of staff to understand their responsibility in ensuring patients flow through our hospital so that we can discharge them home as quickly and as safely as possible’.  Who could disagree?

Professor Chris Isles is Sub-dean for Medical Education and is a Locum Acute Physician.

Topping Out by Phil Jones

Reflections on the Topping Out Ceremony (held at the site of the new hospital on the 14th September 2016)

In June last year, just 15 months ago, I stood spade in hand alongside Cabinet Secretary, Shona Robison, in a big green field and said:

‘Today marks the start of one of the most significant periods in the history of public services in Dumfries and Galloway.’

We were marking a significant milestone, ‘breaking the ground’ for the start of construction of the new District General Hospital (ground works to prepare the site for construction had started in March, just days after Financial Close). I went on to say that we expected it to be delivered on time, on budget and built to the highest standards.

Decent progress on that front I think.

The decision to invest in a new hospital was taken well before that date, indeed before my time as Chairman, and a huge amount of work was put in examining different business and financial options before a final business case was approved in partnership with the Scottish Government in June 2013.

Our corporate team, under the leadership of Jeff Ace the Chief Executive, had complex overlapping work streams to manage, that I could simply categorise under technical, financial, legal and commercial, to get us up to and beyond financial close.

There was however nothing simple about it. I know from my own experience how professionally challenging all of this is.

I take this opportunity to say to Jeff that the leadership demonstrated in delivering on this vision through clear direction, the creation and motivation of a top team, and importantly the confidence to let them get on and do what they are best left to do is outstanding.

phil-jones-1topping-out-2

Turning now to that top team, Chief Operating Officer, Julie White who is the Project Executive and Katy Lewis our Finance Director  have taken this project forward at the same time as doing their day jobs, and also in tandem with Executive roles on our newly established Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board.  Both are held in the highest regard locally and nationally and we are rightly proud of them. 

It is also right I think to acknowledge the contributions made by the previous Board under the Chairmanship of my predecessor, Andrew Johnston, who I was delighted could join us at the Topping Out Ceremony.

We see so many examples, in all walks of life, of the negative effects of short termism, and it is really uplifting to see that in Dumfries and Galloway once again we can, and do make strategic decisions for the longer term benefit of the people of our region in the knowledge that these projects will probably be completed after our individual terms of office.

There were many important decisions to make and history will clearly show the foresight and resolve of the Board in providing this region with a health care service to be proud of, and one that stands comparison with best of the rest.

This 344 bed acute facility, which includes;  a combined assessment unit, theatres complex, critical care unit and out patients department has been designed, in collaboration with clinicians and patients, adopting new models of care and utilising cutting edge technologies.

All directed towards providing patients with the highest standards of care, and providing our staff with the highest quality working environment.

We required additional community benefits to be delivered through the project, and High Wood Health, in conjunction with construction partner Laing O’Rourke, have more than delivered on their commitment to provide opportunities for local people and businesses. They have exceeded targets set to employ local people, provide apprenticeships, graduate placements and opportunities for small and medium enterprises to tender for contracts.

I was an ex apprentice myself and really value that route through to a lifetimes work.

This project will deliver not only a first class health facility but also a lasting legacy through jobs creation and skills development.

It is also important that I acknowledge the small army of our own staff who, in addition to the day job, are working in 16 or more specialisms and in dynamic teams under the Change Programme that is being skilfully led by John Knox, which I must say impresses me greatly.

John and his team are working to ensure the high quality services delivered at DGRI migrate as seamlessly as possible to our new District General Hospital later in 2017, incorporating amongst other things the most modern technology solutions.

I understand that Graham Gault and his IT team have digitised some 50 million patient records, which if that was the only project we were taking forward would be a huge undertaking in itself.

We have grasped with both hands, the once in a generation opportunity, to examine every aspect of the way we organise our acute workload and our new approaches are being designed very much around our model of Health and Social Care Integration.

Our new hospital may be located in Dumfries but it is central to the decentralised and localised model of care that we are developing across the region.

So in closing, I am absolutely confident that by December 2017 we will have not only the finest District General Hospital imaginable but also a huge number of staff whose work experience has been enriched by their involvement in this project.

Philip N Jones is Chairman of the Board at NHS Dumfries and Galloway 

September 2016