FoNS Blog

Workplace learning - a missed opportunity?

28 June 2016

Dr Theresa Shaw, CEO FoNS


I recently had the pleasure of attending the inaugural lecture by Professor Jan Dewing, the first Sue Pembrey Chair in Nursing at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh. The title of her lecture ‘Workplace Learning in Nursing: leading at the edge’, could not be more timely and important for contemporary practice. In the midst of the drive to be more efficient whilst enhancing quality, the opportunity that learning through and in practice creates continues to be overlooked. With this in mind, it was great to see some of her messages reach out more widely with a headlining news item in the Nursing Times today:




The article mentions the growing evidence from Practice Development work led by QMU and others including FoNS and so I can’t resist the opportunity to highlight some of the resources we produced last year to help nurses and others think about the opportunities for learning from practice.


There are a variety of opportunities to access training and education within health and social care; however, many of these are pre-planned by others and often focus on the development of knowledge and skills. It is also not unusual for them to take place away from the workplace. Whilst as Jan indicated in her lecture, these opportunities have a place for the development of competencies for example, the nature of these approaches may mean that the learning tends to be more general and not specific to the needs of individual staff and the context within which they are working. This can make it more difficult for staff to translate what they have learnt into their everyday practice and therefore reduce the chance of any impact on or change to practice.


The workplace or practice setting wherever this maybe, makes a great classroom.  Using opportunities arising from everyday practice can make the learning more specific to individuals and teams, and to the context within which they are working – perhaps helping people to connect emotionally with the learning

Teaching Care Homes

21 June 2016

Theresa Shaw, FoNS CEO


Last week with my colleague Kate Sanders, I had the pleasure of spending two days with fifteen wonderful people, representing the five nursing homes taking part in the ‘Teaching Care Homes’ (TCH) pilot programme led by Care England and funded by the Department of Health.


When I first heard about the plans to develop Teaching Care Homes, I immediately thought back to the tradition of teaching hospitals. These were places regarded as centres of excellence for teaching and research, places that students of medicine in particular but also nursing would aspire to train at and where patients would expect the best and most up to date treatments. So what might the aspirations be for a modern take on such a concept?

The Patients First Programme is here

14 June 2016

The Patients First Team


Two key features of today’s healthcare environment are the need for continual innovation and improvement in services and the need to be cost conscious. Extensive reviews and audits of services are often costly and may lead to strategies and policies but are often not relevant to clinical teams and therefore fail to take root. Sometimes these reviews may be seen by frontline staff as not addressing the issues they feel are important or changes in practice may be seen as creating more work for people who are already over stretched.


It’s been said many times before, but the most important resource of any organisation is the people who work within it. These are the people who ultimately deliver the service that is more caring, more efficient, more cost effective, more person-centred – ever improving.  But are we listening to them and including them, are they motivated and empowered to act, and do they have the knowledge, skills and expertise to be able to deliver these improvements in care? Frontline staff in health and social care, mainly nurses and healthcare assistants, are the primary direct care givers and it is they who can make all the difference. They are, generally speaking, the ones who know what needs to change but may not have the knowledge, skills or confidence to be able to actually make the changes in practice happen.

So what’s needed?

The one truth of our business

07 June 2016

Carolyn Cleveland, Founder and Managing Director, C&C Empathy Training


Having the courage to stay with someone’s distress long enough, has a powerful effect: it validates their experience. But more than that, it validates their feelings, their life, their truth.


And this one truth as I see it, has guided my and business partner Vanessa’s lives for as long as we can remember. 


From me it is staying with the distress of a 4 year old girl as she grieved for her mum (my friend). To staying with that same child’s distress when she herself ended up in hospital 11 years later aged 15. To then needing so very much for people to stay with my distress as I grieved when this girl, who by then was a daughter to me, tragically lost her own life.


Vanessa had to stay with patients’ and loved ones’ distress as a nurse, in particularly in intensive care. She knew that the key to handling difficult conversations was engaging sufficiently to hear, and I mean really hear, all that was being said, no matter how subtle the cues were to how someone was feeling and what they needed.  This ‘truth’, as I see it, has been an intrinsic and important part of our experiences and now guides our business. So whilst we are still in our first year of trading, this particular training business of ours, indeed our passion and purpose, has in fact been in gestation for many, many years. It is now out of our heads, on paper and being disseminated to promote staff wellbeing, good patient experience and communication with care.

In celebration of the steps along the way

31 May 2016

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


So for our regular readers it’s that time of year again! This is the time when I, as a member of the Spinnaker Chorus, attend our annual national convention. This is the time when we compete against other choruses in the Sweet Adelines Association and this year it was held at the wonderful Sage in Gateshead. We had a busy and exciting weekend competing and while waiting for the results we were entertained by last year’s winning chorus. The musical director introduced her chorus by talking about valuing and appreciating the small things in life. She described how her young daughter had taken delight the first time she saw snow or the first time she played with bubbles. She then went on to encourage all the singers gathered and watching and also those eagerly awaiting the results, to value and recognise the simple things that we take for granted about singing in a chorus; such as friendship, fun, laughter, learning new songs and different ways to perform as well as being part of a great team. All small things that contribute to a much bigger outcome of potentially winning a medal. However as she rightly pointed out not everyone can be the winner, so she encouraged us to celebrate the small things in life as this can be just as rewarding.