The Inspire Improvement Fellowship 2019

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator

We are delighted to announce that we are now looking for enthusiastic clinical front- line leaders to join a community of Inspire Improvement Fellows. This opportunity started in 2018 with eleven clinical leaders from a broad variety of clinical services and geographical locations across the UK. Visit the ‘Current Fellows‘ pages to read more about the current Fellows’ profiles and what they aspired to at the start of the Fellowship.

One of the great things about the Fellowship programme is that participants are coming as individual leaders to the residential workshops. We started the night before with a meal, so we can get to know each other and everyone quickly formed a cohesive group, despite pre-programme nerves and worries about not being creative enough, not ‘getting it right’ and adjusting to the ‘active learning’ approach. At the end of day two, everyone started to value the immense knowledge and experience in the room, appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other and left having set up a WhatsApp group to continue the conversations back in practice.

I would say the greatest challenge for participants is helping them to ‘slow down’. There is a culture within health and social care organisations to focus on a project or improvement or ‘fixing things’. In fact the sort of people who become Inspire Improvement Fellows are the sort of people who want to make service improvements, who have ideas about what they’d like to change and an idea of how they’d like to do it; these are all very good things. But for change to be thorough and sustainable, it has to come out of the right place, it has to be based on a solid, workplace culture and foundations. And that is why we start with developing the facilitation skills of the fellows and helping them to develop collaborative ways of working with colleagues and people who use services to find out about their values, about how things are done in the workplace, what care looks like and feels like and what people want it to look and feel like. This slowly, slowly approach can be frustrating, but when ‘building a house it is important to build on solid foundations’, it’s all in the preparation!

The skills and experience that the Inspire Improvement Fellows gain are for life and transferrable. One current Fellow has described this as: ‘You can’t ‘do’ change. You have to ‘be’ change’. Behaviour and mindset are important. ‘‘I’ won’t do anything. ‘We’ will.’ With service improvement work, albeit very good work, there is always the possibility that someone will change post or that there will be some sort of re-organisation. But, with the focus on the individual clinical leader, and developing their skills and experience of leading and developing more person centred cultures, the fellow can take their skills with them into whichever service they find themselves.

Perhaps the other difficulty is defining what the Inspire Improvement Fellowship is in the first place. It’s about leadership but it’s not a leadership programme. It’s about improving care and services but it’s not a quality improvement framework. It’s about developing the individual but it’s not a means for the individual to ‘get ahead’. Rather, this is the fellowship that develops the person, who explores workplace culture with the team and people who use the services, who work together to develop more positive ways of working, which are implemented together …

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