Christeen Bartlett

Christeen and the team: Christeen 4th from the left

Health Visiting Lead, Homerton University Foundation NHS Trust, London

My inspiration for joining this programme as an Inspire Improvement Fellow is the opportunity to make a difference to the colleagues I work with, the children and families we support in our Health Visiting service and to myself as a leader.

I have worked within the community for many years, firstly within adult services before moving into school nursing and for the last fifteen years as a health visitor (with a focus on the under 5s). I initially led on delivery of the healthy child programme dividing my time between direct clinical support to children and their families and a more strategic role, before I moved into management roles. I have been in my current role within Hackney for just over two years and in that time, I have come to understand the teams I work with in great depth. I very frequently see excellence in practice and teams who are committed to offering the best care they can in a thoughtful and professional way. It is a good place to work with a strong and productive team. The positive feedback we receive from our families is a testament to the care being offered on the ground and is celebrated across the service.

However, I have also observed at close quarters the demand the workload can take on staff resilience and the negative impact this can have on morale, team working, sickness levels and ultimately staff retention. I spend a lot of my time recruiting staff into the service and while we lose some staff to natural development opportunities, which is positive, we have also lost staff, who feel unable to remain with the service. The loss of clinical experience, knowledge and competence is challenging to manage as our service involves working with some of the most vulnerable children in our community, where it is important to develop trusting relationships.

While our service provides robust support networks for staff including clinical and safeguarding supervision, I hope the programme will enable me to explore other support networks for our staff, including a restorative model of supervision, supporting staff to manage the demands of their caseload in a reflective and protected way.

I am hopeful that the programme will help me to review and challenge my current thinking, and by gaining a better understanding of myself as a leader will help me to review how a caring culture develops and can be enhanced, encouraged and nurtured and my role to facilitate this.

My overall aim is to begin a conversation with my colleagues on the journey of improving our culture and resilience within the workplace. By doing this I hope we will all feel that we are working within a service that not only cares for our families but for us as individuals, a place where we feel valued, noticed and acknowledged. This I hope will ultimately enhance the quality of care we are able to provide for our families.

I’m also really looking forward to working in collaboration with the other fellows past, present and future, to hear their insights and learn together in a positive environment.