FoNS Blog

New perspectives

17 January 2017

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


Just into the New Year 2017 I was shocked and saddened to learn of the unexpected death of a lady I sing with in chorus. She was in my ‘bass section family’ and I had been fortunate to stand next to her on the risers for eight years. She always had a smile on her face, was always asking how everyone else was, and she was such a good singer, striving to be note and word perfect. We held a tribute night for her on our first rehearsal of the new year, paying our respects by singing some of her favourite songs. Well I say sang but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I think singing by relay was what was really going on!


So why am I sharing this with you now? Well the shock of finding out that someone who I was singing with on Christmas Day was no longer going to be standing next to me on the risers, has given me a new perspective on life and also a promise to myself for 2017. That is, to live in the moment and to make the most of everyday. So often I am worrying about what has been or what could happen, but have been missing out on enjoying the present day opportunities. I have also started to look at the habits and rituals I undertake that actually don’t help me to achieve this. Only last week, there was a tube strike which meant that I had to break my normal habit of getting the tube from Waterloo to our office in central London. Along with many other commuters I walked to work. I was worried about this initially as I knew this would take some time, but in reality it probably took me 15 minutes more than the tube journey. It meant I was out in the fresh air, I was exercising and I saw areas of London that I have never seen before. All in all a good experience. In fact I have decided that I will walk to work for pleasure at least once a week as my schedule allows.

The story of the hummingbird

10 January 2017

Kate Sanders, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator

A few weeks ago I was listening to the radio as I was driving to work. It was in the week of the BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal and Chris Evans was auctioning a number of enticing lots. These included: 24 hours eating and drinking with the Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge in a Pop-Up Picturehouse; the opportunity to attend Chris Evans’ Dine and Disco event; and the chance to hire Take That for the day. As I was listening, I was amazed at the amounts of money that some people were bidding e.g. in excess of £10,000 to go to the Pop-Up Picturehouse!! But at the other end, people were donating £5.00 by text, which entered them into a draw for tickets to the Dine and Disco. Meanwhile a battle royale was also underway between two callers to hire Take That. This auction was running in the hundreds of thousands. During the frenzy, I found myself thinking about the different resources that people have available to them and how they choose to use them to help others.


About 10 minutes before the phone lines closed and the auctions ended, the frenzy was interrupted by a ‘Pause for Thought’ by Remona Aly. She told the story of a south American humming bird who tried to put out a raging fire. The little bird flew backwards and forwards to a lake, filling her beak with water, whilst other creatures watched on, telling the bird not to bother as she was too little and she might get hurt and after all, she wouldn’t be able to put the fire out. The humming bird responded by saying ‘I’m doing what I can’. Remona argued that this fighting spirit, the need to do what we can, is the essence of the Islamic attitude, and suggested that giving what we can, however small can make us feel empowered.


As I was listening to the story, I was struck by the synergy between the auctions, where people were giving what they could, and the story. But it also made me think about what I see happening in health and social care. My role involves working with and hearing about people in caring roles, who are like the humming birds or the people offering text donations. 

Happy New Year … and Happy Birthday!

03 January 2017

Theresa Shaw, FoNS Chief Executive

So here we are in 2017, a New Year and a particularly exciting one for FoNS as 30 years ago on the 28th May our founding Chairman and Trustees agreed and signed the declaration of Trust, formally establishing the Foundation of Nursing Studies as a Charity.


Like many charities, FoNS (the quirky name we are perhaps more known by today) had been around for some time before this, spending time talking with nurses across the profession in order to understand exactly what nursing needed. I have commissioned the production of a short biographical account of the organisation, tracking its progress so I won’t give too much away now. However, it is interesting to look back at and reflect on the stated charitable objects:




Farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017

20 December 2016

The FoNS team

 Theresa Shaw

This year seems to have sped by not least because, as the reflections of my colleagues show, it has been busy with several new strands of activity. Early in the year, we continued with our Creating Caring Cultures Programme with 25 clinical leaders working in South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. The challenges of working as a clinical leader in a busy integrated trust are significant and at times can conspire against a desire to work in ways that are person-centered and caring. What I found heartwarming was that despite the very difficult experiences they often shared, they remained steadfast in their desire to be the best they could be, take on new ideas and keep smiling.


A new initiative we embarked on this year under the leadership of our Chairman, Professor Tony Butterworth, was ‘Playing our Part’ The Work of Mental Health Nurses. Our purpose was to engage and listen to mental health nurses from across practice throughout the UK. We wanted to hear about their experiences of being a mental health nurse and their views on the role, practice and education of mental health nurses for the future. Using social media enabled us to reach a much wider audience, including people who use mental health services, than many traditional reviews can hope to involve. The data from this was independently analysed and then refined through a series of roundtable discussions; again with a range of practicing nurses, academics, other professional and people who use services. I am very much looking forward to seeing the first draft report early in the New Year. In keeping with the process to date, this will be available for consultation before the final iteration is published. Taking a more creative approach to the process has, I believe, provided a real, rich and comprehensive insight into the work of mental health nurses and the services they provide. As a charity committed to advancing nursing and improving the care people who use services experience, ‘playing our part’ in influencing future practice is key.

Evaluation of a High Challenge – High Support Person-centred Workshop: The Galway Clinic Ireland

13 December 2016

Maria Mackay and Michele Hardiman with

Maud Molloy,  Laura McLoughlin, Alice Timlin, Amanda Hastings, Nessa Gillen, Claire Leese, Ailish Munroe, Aoife Quinn, Karen O'Connell , Marianne McQuaid Kelly, Teresa Mulhall, Aedemar Hyland and Kate Arkley

As part of a collaboration between the University of Wollongong, Australia and The Galway Clinic, Ireland, Maria Mackay and Michele Hardiman co-facilitated a person-centred workshop to challenge a group of nursing leaders to consider the culture within their hospital. The Galway Clinic is a 165 bed private hospital in the west of Ireland.  Michele is currently leading a journey with staff to move from moments of person-centredness to a culture where person-centredness is evident in their everyday interactions with patients, families and staff. The workshop was facilitated using practice development methods to role model how to enable participants to be active in their learning. It was evaluated by the nursing leaders; the evaluation comments have been integrated in the discussion below so as to share their thoughts and feelings.


Participants at the workshop were nursing leaders at the clinic who have been charged with championing the implementation of person-centred initiatives and most significantly the implementation of a person-centred electronic patient record. To facilitate this change this group of nursing leaders are developing a community of practice where they come together weekly to support new learning within the workplace. The group focus involves sharing their experiences and ways of working with nursing staff in their own workplaces and using work based facilitation frameworks developed by Michele as part of her doctoral studies.