FoNS Blog

Using forum theatre to learn in and from practice

09 January 2018

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


Last week we featured an improvement insight from a hospice project team that used a number of forum theatre events to help nurses learn how to have difficult conversations about patients’ choices at end of life.


This reminded me of a project that I had led on several years ago where I used forum theatre as a interactive learning event for nurses who were developing their skills and confidence as champions for older people in acute care settings. When I started the project, I knew I wanted to take a very creative approach and started looking for theatre companies to achieve this aim. That’s when I came across forum theatre.


I commissioned a small theatre company to develop a piece of theatre around the care of older people which they set in a care facility in the future (space age!). We wanted the theatre to be light-hearted and slightly removed from ‘real life’ but also for the audience to be able to relate to the interventions and behaviours (both helpful and unhelpful) of staff taken from real life scenarios. The piece of theatre they devised lasted approximately 15 minutes long and told the story of three different residents with different conditions and struggles (one lady with a severe cognitive impairment, one gentleman who wanted to go home, but was physically in need of help and one lady recovering from a surgical operation) in the care facility and the different interactions they had with one member of staff. Bearing in mind there were only two actors, there were a few scene changes and many changes of makeshift costumes! Once run, the theatre was repeated but this time the actor who was the staff member acted as a facilitator and interacted with the audience. He explained that they were going to re run the piece of theatre but if at any point any person in the audience wanted to suggest a different interaction based on their own experience, a

Be the very best ancestor you can be

19 December 2017

Abigail Masterson, FoNS Associate Facilitator and Independent Consultant


One of the many interesting things that happens when you have been around in the profession as long as I have is that you get asked to talk to people about your career; an invitation which always provokes deep reflection in me. Preparing to give such a presentation a few months ago to soon-to-graduate student nurses at the University of Brighton, where I am an Independent Governor on the Board, I was struck by the importance of my ancestors in my career; the generosity of the many individuals who have encouraged and supported me right from my early days as a student nurse. Through their actions they offered me opportunities, challenged me to be the best I could be, provided a sense of endless possibility and dared me to think big.


My ancestors include people like the professor of nursing when I was a first year student nurse who asked us – “What is normal?” a question which still guides and challenges my practice today. The surgical ward sister in my third year whose challenging feedback punctured my hitherto arrogant sense of entitlement and made me think long and hard about whether or not I really had what it takes to be a good nurse. The nursing officer who gave me an excellent piece of career advice which I now share with people I mentor and coach and that is always to think two jobs ahead rather than one. This helps you think about the potential of the routes out of the job you are contemplating as well as what it might offer you now.

Thinking about reflection…

12 December 2017

Kate Sanders, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


We are proud at FoNS and the IPDJ to support the publication of critical reflections. Our recent issue (and past issues too) contains an eclectic mix of reflections, both in terms of the focus of the reflection but also the methods used. Writing these reflections has enabled the authors to develop a greater self-awareness, a deeper understanding of practice and to share their learning and proposed actions with others. 


But reflection is not just an academic activity. In many aspects of our life, it helps us to evaluate what is going well, or not so well, to think about the things that may be limiting or hindering us in doing or achieving what is important to us, and enables us to make plans and to take action. Indeed, some philosophers e.g. Paulo Freire would argue that it is essential for humanity, to enable us to be active participants in the creation and re-creation of our culture and society. 

FoNS at 30 - the final instalment

05 December 2017

Theresa Shaw, FoNS CEO


So – here we are in December and my final FoNS at 30 blog! As I mentioned in November, 2017 seems to have flown, so it is perhaps a good point to take time not only to reflect on the year but also to look forward. My overriding sense is that the year has been tremendously positive. A great year, not just in terms of celebrating all that has been good about the work of FoNS over 30 years but also in terms of new areas of work. One such was the launch of ‘Playing Our Part', where we created a chance for the voices of registered and graduate mental health nurses to be heard alongside others, including those who use services. Another was the publication of the reports from the Teaching Care Homes pilot, in partnership with Care England, Manchester Metropolitan University and the International Longevity Centre UK; work which, it was humbling to hear care home participants describe as giving them a much needed positive image and voice against an often prevailing backdrop of negativity. We were also delighted to launch a new programme, 'Inspire Improvement', which will establish ‘FoNS Improvement Fellows’ - clinical leaders across health and social care who, with the support of the programme, will expand their knowledge and skills in creating cultures that are caring, safe and effective; cultures where teams thrive and a commitment to improvement is shared and valued. The programme and our new Fellows will help FoNS continue to deliver its mission to: 


Facilitative leadership in creating a caring culture

28 November 2017

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


Last week I had the pleasure of leading a workshop at the Nurse-led Clinics 2017 run by Healthcare Conferences UK. The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Enable participants to identify their own leadership qualities and behaviours against a framework
  • Explore the ‘Creating Caring Cultures’ model as a framework for developing nurse-led clinics.

The participants were from a wide range of clinical practice and were currently running nurse led clinics or wanting to develop them in their own sphere of practice.


I started the workshop by describing the resources that FoNS has available to health and social care staff on our website. We then used Evoke cards to introduce ourselves and to share our expectations of the workshop. Participants were then invited to look at the Facilitative Leadership Model

and to select 10 characteristics that they felt they used regularly in their roles. They then looked at these identified characteristics in relation to the three styles: Visionary, Manager, Facilitator. This was an opportunity to identify their strengths but also to think about and discuss the merits of each style. During the discussion we identified different situations in which each style maybe more appropriate within their role and work.