FoNS Blog

The value of collaboration, inclusion and participation

22 May 2018

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.

Dying Matters: Inspiring Others

15 May 2018


A blog in support of Dying Matter Awareness Week 2018, written by Kate Sanders on behalf of the Teaching Care Homes teams.


During a recent Teaching Care Homes (TCH) programme workshop, one of the participants, Michelle, shared with us, that she had spent several months developing her own advance care plan. The desire to do this was stimulated by a trip to an experiential training session at a local undertakers, to find out what happens when someone has passed away. Here Michelle witnessed an embalming. She found the process detached, impersonal and distressing. This wasn’t because the undertakers were unprofessional; in fact, it was their very professionalism which upset her. The experience prompted Michelle to consider her own end of life. She has always feared being dead – not the experience of dying but of being dead. She started to think of how she could approach her own death in a way that gave her the assurance that she would be at peace. The events following her death needed to be planned in a way which gave her a choice which was shared with her family and acted upon. Since then Michelle has been compiling a book outlining her wishes and this is a work in progress and one which is part of family discussion. The research she has undertaken has opened her eyes completely to the fact that there are alternatives out there and we are largely ignorant of them.


The Role of the Chair

08 May 2018

Theresa Shaw, FoNS CEO


FoNS Chairman, Professor Tony Butterworth, CBE, is stepping down this year having completed two terms of office; the maximum period for all Trustees. Having worked with several different people in the Chair role I have come to appreciate just how important the role is for a charity both in terms of the leadership the role offers to the board and the support if offers to me in my role as Chief Executive.


The Chair has the key responsibility of ensuring that the charity fulfils the ‘charitable objectives’ as set out in its governing document and that it complies with charity, and in our case, company law and regulations: The Chair and indeed whole Board hold significant accountability whilst giving their time freely and without remuneration.


For me, the nature of the relationship between Chair and CEO is key. Leading an organisation like FoNS is immensely enjoyable but like many charities, there are challenges too. Ultimately, the Board of Trustees have handed me the responsibility for leading and managing the organisation but their support and particularly that of the Chair is highly valued and I believe creates the opportunity for organisations to flourish; something which I believe FoNS has experienced during Tony’s tenure.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and helping others do the same: “What’s it like to work round here?”

01 May 2018

Anna Collins, Lead Nurse, Outpatients, South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre


So, I was delighted to have been chosen for the Inspire Improvement Programme (supported by the Burdett Trust for Nurses), I thought I understood what to expect, but I realise now that I didn’t. Prior to attending the first two days, the team had asked me what it was I was going to do. I found I didn't really know what to say so instead I regaled them with tales of looking at workplace culture and a bursary to improve things around here, for the team and to benefit our patients of course. Examining that answer now, after my first two Inspire programme days, I realise how I deflected the question because I really didn't know the answer! But I've also realised that my answer was very much about me not the team. The programme days have given me the opportunity and space to consider and reframe my thoughts and I would now answer that question in a very different way, hopefully more honestly and in a more inclusive way.


I worried throughout the workshop days that I wasn't doing it right. I worried that the name badge I made on the first night was substandard and not good enough. As an adult I don't think I've been asked to be creative, to challenge the way I think or express myself in such a creative way. This felt unnatural and awkward. However, the group of people on the programme were truly lovely, more than I could have hoped for, non-judgemental, kind, inclusive and honest about their challenges, both professionally and personally. We all share the goal of wanting to improve workplace culture and facilitate a strong and productive team to enable us to provide the best care to our patients.

Staying Flexible and Open to Change can have Positive Benefits

24 April 2018

Linda Phillips, Community L.D. Nurse, Queen's Nurse, Llanelli





The team: From l-r Linda Phillips, Laura Andrews, Angie Edwards & Linsey Davies


It has been almost a year since the end of our time on the Patient’s First Programme “Improving the experience of acute hospital care for people with a learning disability within Hywel Dda University Health Board”. I can now look back on the experience with great satisfaction and pride, although it was not always like that when trying to find the right managers to influence, and when battling against deadlines!


There were many highlights along the way. One of the highlights was a stakeholders’ afternoon tea party. Here we were able to share the project not only with local people who have a learning disability and their carers, but also managers from the Health Board and members of the Welsh Government: Whilst also enjoying the most delicious cakes! Another highlight was being a finalist in the Nursing Times, Learning Disability Award. Although we did not win, we all had a fabulous time at the award ceremony, which all the project team members were able to enjoy.