• Which one of your team is the best at comms?

Diplomatically, not one single individual! Our core team currently includes a background of media, graphic design and marketing. Our communications works best when we have been able to share and input into ideas and actions. We are also fortunate to have a number of other individuals within Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) with skills and experience in communications, marketing and engagement who support us with wider projects.

 

  • How do you persuade management to trust staff and let them use social media?

I think attitudes to social media within our trust have changed over the last few years. We have moved from a cautious to more open approach. The success of some of our early service-based accounts have supported us in promoting the benefits of engagement with peers and service users more widely within LCHS, along with active users among our executive team. The growing popularity of these platforms generally has also acted as a catalyst.

However, it does come with a big caveat that with the power of social media comes responsibility and accountability. While we encourage them to embrace the fun and informal tone of social media, we cannot impress the responsible use element on staff enough and our corporate governance in this respect is supported by a social media policy.

 

  • Got any plugs?
    Bathroom? Rubber? 13 amp?
    We certainly have plenty of shameless plugs that we could drop in for LCHS’s staff and services!

 

  • What do you want to get even more fab at?
    We would undoubtedly like to be better at communications! One of the great things about working in comms is there is almost always room to grow and be more creative. The appetite for delivering something different amongst our audiences also continues to develop and change. We aspire to be the best we can possibly be.

 

  • What are your thoughts on how we communicate Sepsis better?

One of the biggest issues is that this is such a huge topic and the messages we want to give are so general. Having been part of the Sepsis discussions at the Do-athon, there’s an element of making better use of the resources which already exist but also tailoring elements to our audiences into bite-size chunks. This is not just about public awareness, but ensuring staff and other stakeholders have the knowledge and tools they need to share the message too.

 

  • How do you make bad news into a good news story?

Use every opportunity to translate it into a positive or to demonstrate the proactive steps you have taken to mitigate the bad news.

 

  • How do we enable staff to hear what patients want to say to them and leave the patient in control and able to say what they want?

In our opinion there are several strands to this, the first of which is about good communication skills generally that we should all be mindful of regardless of who we are talking to. This includes your body language, how you engage in conversation and your listening skills while you are part of that face-to-face interaction.

Within LCHS we also gather feedback through a number of patient and public involvement (PPI) channels. This includes encouraging patients to complete the Friends and Family Test, patient satisfaction forms and take part in stakeholder events. We also undertake 15 Steps visits, have regular ‘patient stories’ at Board and look at feedback which has come from our PALS team, Complaints and Concerns, Patient Opinion and NHS Choices. This evidence is reported to Board and triangulated through a number of other relevant sub-committees. We also complete a ‘you said, we did’ exercise, which is fed back directly to our clinical teams.

We are working to make sure this evidence is coordinated into meaningful and actionable feedback that improves our services and ultimately patient care.

 

  • Top tip for deciding how to measure success when it’s qualitative not quantitative?

Make sure you know what success looks like for you and ensure there are plenty of opportunities for feedback from the relevant audiences. Contextualise what you are doing and benchmark.

 

  • Did you use Twitter to engage staff? Was it successful?
    Not directly, but we know that some of our interactions on Twitter are with staff members. We’ve also found the same via Facebook, particularly with our workforce-related good news (retirements, long service, welcoming new team members, awards successes, academic achievement, etc). Using social media to engage with staff is something we would like to explore more.