Charlotte Keates, Nurse Manger, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

Hello, my name is Charlotte and I am an Inspire Improvement Fellow 2019. We started our fellowship by attending a two-day workshop in March this year. It was the first time I had met the other fellows and I found I was anxious about what I would experience. To start with we created a name badge each using creative materials, which was a true ice-breaker and something completely different from anything I had done before. In fact, the whole two days was a real eye opener to different ways of facilitating change through creativity. I personally was in my element (as a child who always loved ‘art attack’), being given the opportunity to use creativity as a means of learning and development is a dream come true for me. However, everyone is different. Through reflection and a lot of sharing, all the fellows came together as one with ideas of how they were going to influence their areas on their return to work.

On my return to work, I was keen to impart some of the knowledge I had gained with my then team members. I decided to see if I could engage my colleagues with creativity using my box of glittery crafts or what I called the ‘glitterbox’. I had learnt so much from the workshop days, I wanted to offer the same opportunities for my team to learn in that way too.

So that was it! I pitched the idea to the senior management team, booked a venue and made a plan of what methods and approaches I could use based on my experience and what I had learned from the workshop days. I tried to choose activities that would encourage the participants to think about the culture they were currently working in and what they wanted it to be as a team. I wanted to focus on culture as the hospital was merging, meaning leaders from two sites were having to come together to work as one. Ultimately my goal was to help them realise that they do have some common goals and they could influence the success of the hospitals together.

I was extremely nervous at the beginning of the day as these were people I knew and had never been part of something like this before. Not everyone wants to be creative and all of us have different way of expressing ourselves. At the start of the day I checked in with the group using an ice breaking exercise. Some dubious faces across the room were reassured by me telling them to ‘trust the process’.  I asked them to make a badge using stuff from the ‘glitterbox’ to represent  themselves to the rest of the group.

Within minutes of the first activity there was a buzz in the room and sounds of laughter could be heard. The group were spending time thinking about what things represented them from the glitterbox. I knew that the day needed to focus on them coming together as a team so I wanted them to have an appreciation of what other members may be feeling at that time. We then participated in a number of exercises aimed at helping them to come together as a wider team and develop an action plan for the future. At the end of the day everyone’s perceptions had changed.

Back at work after the workshop I heard people talking about the day with their teams and asking what they could do differently in their areas. This was great as I could start to see people changing their mindset after only spending a day together using creativity and new approaches to participation and collaboration.

I learnt a lot from this experience, and I am constantly learning as a fellow. I learnt that being a facilitator is challenging and I need to remember to be as authentic and impartial as possible when in a facilitation role, not letting my personal opinion have an impact. I have also learnt that when I embark on my next role, the key to success is participation, collaboration and providing some reflective and thinking ‘space’, away from clinical practice, for the key stakeholders of an initiative. This is because they can see where the challenges are and have great ideas about how to move forward together. And of course, I will continue to use creativity and my ‘glitterbox’ to help in this process.

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