FoNS Blog

Building networks of support and partnership between health and social care

15 August 2017

Robin Willmott, Manager, Millbrook Lodge, Orders of St John Care Trust


At Millbrook Lodge we believe it is important for the nursing team to build a network of support and partnership with others to ensure excellent nursing care for our residents. One of the ways that we have supported our nursing colleagues to achieve this is through establishing a strong working relationship with the local GP practice. The practice teams coming into Millbrook Lodge on a weekly basis need to have consistent information delivered by an experienced team to enable them to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe effectively. To ensure that the flow of information meets this demand, of course the first step is having skilled and trained practitioners who can identify the residents’ changing clinical needs and understand which symptoms the medical teams need to be aware of. But that is not enough on its own.


Establishing understanding: As a new manager to the home nearly three years ago my primary task was to meet with the leadership team at the local GP practice and understand the issues and pressures that they experienced coming to the home. I gave the practice team a point of contact for reliable information, where concerns and comments could be discussed and shared. I was available to meet the medical teams when they came to the home which enabled me to observe and support their practice with the care home team. Once there was a working partnership established, we developed this further by supporting the surgery and local NHS provider with some research. This meant that we could form as a co-operative and learn how to work alongside each other acknowledging the skills that we have and combining these skills to create a good service for the resident-patient.

Storytelling for Health

08 August 2017

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


In June I attended the first ‘Storytelling for Health’ Conference in Swansea. I had submitted an abstract because I am very passionate about using creativity in any format, including storytelling, with the teams I work with to help understand both staff and patients’ lived experiences (Odell, 2014).


As the programme was so varied, with concurrent sessions, a theatre, a gallery and a Victorian library, it was very difficult to choose what to attend. Such was the richness and variety of the presentations and performances, I would have needed to attend the conference four times over to see and hear all the presentations! But I would like to share two of the presentations I saw. Both tell us something about the value of creativity.


The first one is ‘Re-Live: Life story theatre - stories for change’ which demonstrated the impact that Re-Live theatre work has on people who have experienced health or social issues themselves. Participants were able to demonstrate that taking part in the theatre, sharing their stories with a wider audience and engaging with their creative side had helped with their health and well-being recovery. This presentation was in a contemporary theatre (as per photo left).


Sharing experiences and outcomes that support improvement in care

01 August 2017

Theresa Shaw, FoNS CEO


When FoNS was established 30 years ago, one of the key ambitions was to increase the dissemination and spread of research findings to nurses in practice. Back then it was widely acknowledged that too much good quality research evidence remained on shelves rather than being used to make improvements in nursing practice. There were several approaches that FoNS used to address this – supporting projects that aimed to implement research findings, administering conferences to spread research outcomes and helping establish professional networks for sharing and learning. Additionally, FoNS had a strong commitment to publishing reports of all the projects and initiatives it supported. These reports ensured that the outcomes and experiences of those who were using research and evidence to improve and change practice could be spread for others to use and learn from. FoNS was keen to help reduce what felt like a continuous ‘reinventing of the wheel’. Projects leaders and teams were encourage to share their experiences of trying to make changes to practice ‘warts and all’ including not just the outcomes but the process of trying to make changes. In many respects, this is what made the FoNS reports stand out, they highlighted the complexities of changing practice and provided examples of how individuals and teams had overcome barriers and obstacles to change.

Building Patients' Understanding and Confidence: The 'Foot Clinic'

25 July 2017

Lisa Hacker, Staff Nurse, Royal Bournemouth Hospital


The orthopaedic outpatient department at Bournemouth Hospital offers pre-operative assessment for patients who require planned surgery. However, it can then be up to 10 weeks until surgery. Our experience is that sometimes patients can’t have their operation on the day because they didn’t know or have forgotten vital information in relation to the strict criteria for surgery, such as the need to stop taking antibiotics or steroids for 2 weeks before their admission date. This obviously causes distress and disruption for the patient and also means that the service is not being as efficient as possible, as patients need to be re-booked.


Based on the experiences of our orthopaedic physiotherapists, who were already offering knee classes, we decided to trial a foot class to enable patients to optimise their own recovery. We wanted to provide patients with realistic recovery expectations, reduce anxiety and instil confidence. Before setting up the class, we had to consider times, days, staff availability, waiting room space and housekeeping schedules amongst other things. Our department usually opens from 8am-6pm after which staff go home and it’s housekeeping time. We realised the usual workings of the department couldn’t stop but as we wanted to use the waiting room, an out of hours class became our only option. The support of our managers was fundamental and we ran the class voluntarily with time given back via bursary funds supporting another nurse. Our biggest challenge was accessing patients’ specific data and the theatre lists, which as nurses we didn’t have access to, to enable us to invite people to attend the class. However we got help from the directorate personal assistant who sent out invitations on our behalf to patients we selected from the list.  We had to do this 4-5 weeks prior to their operation.  We invited 15 (anticipated 30 with guests) and 11 (with 8 guests) arrived - so a good response I think.

Why is nursing in the care sector overlooked?

18 July 2017

Karen Davies, Manager, Rose Court Care Home, Manchester


I was recently invited to speak at an RCN Foundation fringe event at the RCN Congress in Liverpool, the focus being on care homes. It was a mixed audience, about 50 people, including care home staff involved in care giving and also people working at an executive and influencing level. To start I decided to ask a couple of questions.


Firstly, I asked: Who has been into a care home in a professional capacity? The majority of the audience raised their hands.


I then asked: Who has been into a care home in a non-professional capacity? Only two people raised their hands.


This response really struck me as something telling. It seemed really significant that in a room full of people, representative of the public, only a small minority had had experience of visiting a care home, perhaps as a friend or relative. This made me think about student nurses and recognise that as they started their training, it is very unlikely that they will have had any experience of care homes.