Meet the scholars


Siobhan Weaver, Lead Nurse, Children's Continuing Care Team

"Dear Team,

 This week at Herstmonceaux Castle I have been learning about practice development. What I have experienced has been a personal journey of discovery. What I have learnt is that it is people who hold the answers; that using creativity alongside questioning and enquiry will enable great, meaningful and positive learning to happen. I would like to share 
this with you all.

You can support me by being open minded to what I show you and join in if you feel this is right for you. If you are worried, talk to me and tell me how we can work together to change and learn,

Love Siobhan x"

So this was my starting point as I left that beautiful week that was the FoNS hosted practice development school 2017. I have a job to do, I am ready and energised to make a change in myself. It's a different kind of energy than I am used to though. It's not the fizz popping, 'tigger' style enthusiasm that I have (occasionally) been known for - you know the one.... the overwhelming, over-riding, million miles an hour and already 10 points ahead energy. If I sit quietly, I can feel it deep within me. It's a step back and watch energy and I am practicing funnelling it in a completely different way.

So, my starting point ... 'talk to me - I will listen'. Active listening has never been one of my strong points. I know this now because so much of my calm energy is needed at the moment to make sure that I do it well. I am having to physically and mentally concentrate (hard) on doing it. My mind still likes to wander. I find a thought stream can take over and, if left unchecked, will consume my active listening, polishing it off in one swift gulp. I find I sometimes jump in with more directive (closed) questions, which are really just dressed up solutions (solutions, solutions) instead of allowing the silence (sometimes long, sometimes uncomfortable), facilitating the space for the person to find their own answer. I still find that I am more guiding that I really would like, but I am working on it.

'How are you keeping this up?' I was asked a few days ago by a colleague. I am writing reflections, nearly every day, for the first time in my nursing career (oh, how I wish I'd listened more thoughtfully to my wonderful personal tutor 20 years ago!). The reflections are personal and cathartic, enabling an exploration of the emotions that I experience on a daily basis ...'a step back, to take a step forward' and hey ... better late than never! They are aiding my learning, helping me discover (and rediscover) things that would have remained invisible to me. They create an energy of their own that sustains me and enables me to continue to improve my active listening skills. They are my memory to look back on lest I forget.

Recently I listened to a podcast from the Accidental Creative. Todd Henry shared his thoughts on 3 daily practices that he thinks can improve your life.

1) STUDY everyday (just 20-30 minutes of learning about something important to you),

2) REFLECT on the learning

3) take a WALK to help unlock the creativity in your learning.

I've been doing all three of these and I can tell you it's working for me. My learning is taking me on a wonderful journey - and my ultimate destination? To help co-create the right conditions in the workplace environment to facilitate person-centredness, learning cultures, wellbeing and healthfullness. It feels a big goal to achieve, but every journey starts with just one step and I know it is in the right direction.

Click the picture on the right to read Siobhan's 'Steller Story'.


Chris Benson, Director of Patient Care, St Peter’s Hospice 

I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Richard Tompkins Scholarship in 2013.

The scholarship has  left me with  a real vision about how I want to be as a  manager and how I want to support my managers to enable their own teams to develop and flourish. Whilst my career has progressed in to senior management rather than direct practice improvement, the principles of facilitation, engaging and collaborating with  staff, and the development of a positive  workplace culture couldn’t be more transferable. My initial project was related to developing a positive workplace culture of a small hospice team, and my subsequent roles have enabled me to continue to build on the knowledge I gained.

I am now in the fortunate position where I can enable other staff to engage with the work of FoNS via Practice Development School and find that 5 years on I am just as excited when discussing the opportunities that Practice Development School offers as when I first experienced it. PD school itself was a course like no other, but the opportunity of a year’s mentorship that the scholarship offered was truly invaluable. Working regularly with Kate really allowed me to make that theory practice transition and continued to challenge my ways of thinking, engaging and facilitating. It felt like learning a new language, and I needed to continually practice to remain fluent.

Other highlights from being a Richard Tompkins scholar have been the huge privilege of meeting esteemed professionals such as Tony Butterworth, Loretta Bellman, Jan Dewing and of course the fantastic team at FoNS. It is inspiring to meet and talk to such fantastic role models in nursing, and on each occasion it reminded me of what a fantastic and diverse profession we belong to.

When I first read about the Richard Tompkins scholarship I remember feeling excited about the opportunity and both thrilled and nervous when I learnt I had been successful. I would encourage any nurse to apply; it is a unique development opportunity that really will positively influence you for the rest of your career.