Starting the Conversation

Amanda Baker, Inspire Improvement Fellow & Clinical Manager, Low Secure Services, Bradford

Amanda Baker

Well! It’s now two months on from the first of the three Inspire Improvement Programme residentials and I have completed the first group session with staff.

As clinical manager of three low secure wards, I chose to focus on working with the assessment ward for the programme. As a clinical environment it can be challenging.

Today I sat with a group of staff and explored some of their experience of coming to work. They have had a two-week opportunity to position themselves on a ‘Blob Tree’ as they arrive and leave work. I hoped this would encourage them to consider how they positioned themselves in terms of their emotion, resilience, skills and role within the team. A ‘Blob Tree’ is a picture of a tree with outlines of people – the people are sitting on branches, lying or standing on the ground, in ones or twos or threes, some happy, some not, some helping each other, some clearly alone, some facing forward, some facing backwards and even one falling. I asked staff members to choose a person to represent how they felt on arrival and on leaving work. I chose this as a way to explore how people felt about their work and their workplace.

We all took a turn to share our Blob Tree position based on either the one most frequently used or the one which felt most significant. It was encouraging to hear mainly positive experiences of arriving at work but also acknowledging the impact a shift could have on the Blob Tree position when leaving work.

One team member referred to ‘set backs’ which could be described as challenges they faced whilst at work. This included situations which arise frequently such as staffing shortages, incidents of aggression, feeling that there wasn’t enough time to complete training.

One team member talked about often feeling like the Blob laying flat at the bottom of the tree on arrival to the ward but the satisfaction of her job and her ability to realise her success at work meant that she left in a position of being sat with others further up the tree.

Much of the value of the exercise was I think getting the conversation going rather than where they put themselves on the tree. People recognised familiar feelings and thoughts in each other and acknowledged some shared experience which led to a sense of ‘togetherness’ in the room. Some hadn’t participated in the ‘Blob Tree’ exercise but they did participate in the discussion that day and all in all it created a bit of a buzz! It wasn’t profound or life changing but was engaging and has left me feeling very positive and inspired me to write this blog!

I learnt not to be afraid to try something new. I have had feedback from some who admitted that when they saw the Blob Trees up on the wall they asked themselves (and probably each other) “what on earth is this?” However, the ones who asked still participated!

I have also learnt to be prepared to take a risk and offer support and encouragement through new and challenging experiences and the benefits will follow.

Comments are closed.