The value of collaboration, inclusion and participation

Helena Brown, Ward Sister, St George’s Hospital, Stafford

When I applied for the Inspire Improvement Programme, I didn’t really have a proper idea of how valuable the programme would be. I was half expecting it to be another course which I would find interesting, but then put it to the back of my mind once I was in practice but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Right from the start we explored many aspects of facilitative leadership and I learned three words that I need to remember when looking to inspire improvement: Collaboration, Inclusion and Participation. After a number of different exercises at the workshops, it became clear to me that we were being challenged to think differently about the way we work at present and how to include others.

This led me to reflect on how I had dealt with people in the past, and how I could’ve done things differently with a few past, not so successful, improvements on my ward (in an older persons mental health unit). This included a situation which came to light, during a supervision session with a health care support worker (HCSW). They raised the issue about how certain tasks were being missed during the day and were not being picked up until the next day. The HCSW had raised this concern in supervision with the potential solution of having tasks go onto the observation chart, so that everyone knew what was expected of them for that shift. This was fed this back to me and I was asked to design new documentation and roll it out to the rest of the staff.

I devised completely documentation, which I felt really pleased with as it appeared to include every aspect that the HCSWs had raised as issues. I introduced it at the start of the shift and explained why it had been changed. The staff looked at it and felt that it looked very complicated. I explained how it should be completed, however the staff did not appear keen. I spoke to all of the nurses to make sure that the new rota was being used every shift, however I noticed that if I was off for a few days, the staff reverted back to the old style. And I quickly received a lot of negative comments regarding the new system, especially from the HCSWs who had suggested the change in the first place. This led to me feeling really frustrated as I thought that I was doing a good thing. I also started to feel really upset that this was so unpopular because it was the first time I had tried to implement something new, and I had expected it to be a success because the HCSWs had come up with the idea themselves. I took this really personally and it continued to play on my mind for some time, even outside of work.

With the wisdom of hindsight gained from the Inspire Improvement workshop days, I have become aware that it’s all too easy to think that our own way is the correct way, especially because we think that we are doing things to help staff or patients. However now what I realise is that everyone has different ways of thinking, learning and doing. Therefore, using other’s strengths and working together in order develop and implement change is better than me dictating what we are doing, even though I felt that the dictation was what was required at first. Reflecting back on the situation, I feel that it would’ve been better to take the issue to a ward meeting and get the team to discuss how it is not working and then collectively allow the team to come up with their own design. In thinking that I was helping everyone out, I actually de-valued the tool that I was implementing. Following this reflection, I now feel more confident, and look forward to the next improvement that I can facilitate for, and with, my team rather than on my own.

Comments are closed.