My thoughts following the first workshop days as a FoNS Inspire Improvement Fellow

Nicola White, Specialist Practitioner District Nurse, Edinburgh

I am a specialist practitioner district nurse/practice teacher based in the North East of Edinburgh and feel so fortunate to have been accepted onto the Fellowship, with two other nursing colleagues from Scotland. After making contact them both, Morag and l arranged to get the same flight down to Birmingham. The trip started with an adventure. First the flight was cancelled, which meant taking a taxi to Glasgow for a later flight, followed by an impossibly small restriction on cabin baggage, only then to see a plane with propellers! My consolation was that l had met up with Morag. We managed to arrive in Birmingham for drinks and dinner and to be met with such a lovely welcome by other member of our cohort.

On day 1 we were welcomed by Theresa (FoNS Chief Executive) and received our fellowship badge. The day started with an approach which was outside my usual comfort zone; using creativity as expression of our thoughts of ourselves as facilitative leaders, so this initially felt overwhelming. We worked in groups to discuss the purpose of developing, leading and facilitating a caring culture. Who would have thought so much could be achieved with glitter, glue and sticky back tape! Jo (FoNS Lead for Inspire Improvement Fellowship) was supportive, encouraging and understanding in guiding us to try different ways of learning. Already l was thinking of my own team and ways of working that should be so obvious such as ‘How do we do things around here?’ and I was thinking how currently we do not often take the time to pause, reflect and include the team.

The afternoon was centred on active listening and participatory evaluation. Our creative work involved creating a shield. Creating a shield was to describe to the other members of the group, what I wanted from the group, what I brought to the group as well as my critical question and my personal artefact of who l am as a person. It was at this point in the day l felt my abilities in creativity fell short compared to others and perhaps l had missed the point of the exercise. However, ironically, when l went out for a walk at the end of the day, l passed Solihull School whose motto, below a shield (l couldn’t get away from them) was “Perseveres”. It made me think of Leith’s motto Persevere. I took it as a sign to get on with something that l had been so looking forward to.

That evening we met with ten members of the first cohort of the fellowship, which started in 2018. They were generous with their time and thoughts, and very reassuring that they too had experienced all the insecurities we were now having. They were positive and encouraging and seemed such a great group and happy to tell us about the work they had put into practice.

Day 2 Focused on workplace culture and leadership. I relaxed into the programme and what struck me that day was how fabulous my cohort was. The new cohort is comprised of eleven members from all walks of health and social care. As professionals they are thoughtful of their staff and patients and so wanting to continue to improve and be the best they can be. The cohort comes from all different areas of care – but as Jo commented ‘diversity is strength’. It was enlightening to hear of work that is already going on in different areas and l will use this opportunity to soak up all the information l can.

My learning from the days:

  • Amazing what can be discussed from just using glitter and glue
  • Collaboration, inclusion and participation
  • Diversity is strength
  • Looking at myself and what l bring to the team
  • A lot can be learned from shields … persevere and see what comes
  • Don’t judge yourself or compare with others
  • Relax and embrace new opportunities

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