FoNS Blog

Tackling loneliness

14 November 2017

Tom Stamp, Oxford Health

l-r Rhea Draguisky with Tom Stamp

The Community Therapy Service is dedicated to enabling and maximising patients’ independence in the community. We pride ourselves in being able to provide holistic support, inclusive of physical and mental health issues, mobility and accessibility and social situations.  We frequently see patients who express feelings of social isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Contributing factors can include changes to physical health, frailty, changes to mobility and a lack of community services and resources.


The Foundation of Nursing Studies Patients First innovation has so far enabled us to research an Anxiety Management, Social Inclusion and Wellbeing group here in Witney, Oxfordshire where we are currently working with our stakeholders to provide a 6-8 week workshop exploring these themes.


As you may have already experienced in your own workplace, introducing change into practice can have its challenges and can often highlight our own anxieties as health care professionals; are we doing the right thing?  It was therefore encouraging to see in the national press, a few weeks back, an article which supports our project mission and has given us a much-needed creativity boost to continue our work and to know that YES, we can make a difference!

New challenges and past successes

07 November 2017

Theresa Shaw, FoNS CEO



As this is my penultimate ‘FoNS at 30’ monthly blog, I thought it would be a good opportunity to start to reflect on the year and look to the future. Like most years at FoNS, we have had a busy time delivering our regular programmes of work as well as taking on some new challenges and of course celebrating our anniversary.


2017 is the final year of the very successful Patients First Programme, in partnership with the Burdett Trust for Nursing. Over the last eight years, it has supported 90 nurse-led teams across 40 different clinical settings to implement locally focused improvements at the frontline of practice. The reports published in our online library share the experiences of the teams and the outcomes for practice, but looking back at what some of the participants have said about the programme is a great indication of the impact the programme has had:


“It actually changed the way that I feel about nursing after being in nursing for several years and becoming a little bit cynical and disillusioned, it actually renewed my enthusiasm for making things better and making positive changes.  And I think the biggest thing it did for me was it gave me the skills to go out there and make those changes, and to do them constructively and with the support of other people."


"It’s totally transformed practice, certainly what we did with the project has just been embedded into practice, and it’s actually helped us to achieve quality targets”

The power of music as an aid when caring for people living with dementia

31 October 2017

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator


Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know that I have a great love of singing. One of my passions is singing as part of a ladies barbershop chorus and I follow a lot of people around the world with a similar passion via social media. This week I heard the wonderful story of a chorus in America who invited a friend (who had been involved with the chorus previously) to direct the chorus despite a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and very poor short-term memory recall. The gentleman was able to stand up, connect to the music and direct the chorus perfectly for the duration of the song. 


This led me to reflect on the power of music to help a person with a cognitive impairment and I came across two articles in the Guardian.  


The first one described a project in Bournemouth between the university and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to engage people living with dementia and their carers. The project aimed to ‘provide immediate support and therapeutic relief for people living with dementia and for their carers, through interactive musical activities, while simultaneously using the experience to inform research’. The end result was the country’s first dementia concert, ‘in the end the projects collaborative ethos showed how those with dementia and their carers could learn and perform together in a communal creative context free from the challenging routine of their daily lives’. 

Protecting patients and yourself ...

24 October 2017

Dr Caroline Shuldham, FoNS Trustee


The season for flu vaccination is upon us and I recently received an invitation to attend a Saturday morning clinic at my GP practice to have one.  Patients were of all ages, not just the over 65s, and all were treated in the same room. There was a camaraderie between patients and the GPs who had come in especially to run this extra session. Patients seemed to want the vaccination. Everything ran smoothly and quickly with no ensuing symptoms.


The experience led me to think about the variable response rate to the national flu vaccination campaigns for staff in the NHS. In England,  in some Trusts estimates have it as low as 20% of staff taking up the offer of a free vaccine. Wales had their best year last season with 52% of staff with direct patient contact having a vaccination, thereby exceeding their 50% target for this group. 


We have been presented with the facts: flu kills and can be spread to patients from asymptomatic healthcare staff. Healthcare workers also get flu as some of the vignettes on YouTube record. Vaccination reduces the risk of contracting flu and is a patient safety issue as well as one of personal protection. Safety is now not just a matter of protecting patients from getting flu, but with staff vacancy rates high it is also a means of enabling as many staff as possible to be available to care for patients, rather than off sick with flu. With these issues in mind the staff vaccination programme is extending to care homes.


Having a vaccination is a matter of personal choice. Whilst some people are not able to have it for health reasons most can. However there is some evidence that stronger levels of persuasion will be used with NHS staff this year.


So the reason for choosing this as the subject of my blog is simple. I do not understand why healthcare staff, who do so much to care for and ensure safety of patients, would not avail themselves of a vaccination to guard themselves and their families from flu, support their colleagues by being available for work, and protect patients by being present and not transmitting the illness. On that recent Saturday morning, patients, the general public, seemed keen, why would we not be?

How it felt to be involved in an innovation in practice

17 October 2017

Angie Edwards and Laura Andrews


My name is Angie, I am a member and trustee of Carmarthen Peoples First, (Carmarthen Peoples First is a self-advocacy organisation run by and for people with a learning disability). I was asked to be a member of the project ‘Improving Access to Hospital Care for People with a Learning Disability'. The project involved helping staff in the hospital learn about care for people with a learning disability and how to make a stay in hospital better for people.


The team from Hywel Dda University Health Board
 Linda Phillips, Laura Andrews, Angie Edwards and Lynsey Davies

What did we do?

We developed six training sessions for ward staff. At each session, I taught sign language, which would help people, words such as; health passport, nurse, doctor, scared etc and I baked cakes for each session, we renamed the project ‘If Angie bakes it they will come!’ because people came to sessions for my cakes!


How did I feel about being involved?

I felt proud to be asked to be part of the project and it taught me new skills and taught me not to be scared.


What else has happened as a result of being involved?

I have helped present the project at national conferences and I got a whole conference to sign ‘hello my name is…’ (including Professor Jean White the Chief Nursing Officer for Wales!). I also did a video for the conference about how I felt being involved. I have been to London, Hull and Cardiff with the team but what happens on tour stays on tour!


I have enjoyed doing this project and have made new friends as a result. I want to keep going and do another project now!