Where do we find our inspiration?
The things that keep us going on the day when nothing is going right?
How do we find the strength and patience to keep smiling, to do the best we can?
What makes us think outside the box and just get on and do it because its best for patients?
What gives us the determination to do the best we can when we are two staff down and we’ve waved the red flag but no more nurses miraculously appear?
How do you ‘care’ everyday like it was your Mum or Dad?
How do you laugh and smile and show compassion and empathy when you are at the end of 3 long days and asleep on your feet?
How do you make the best of a clinical environment that isn’t quite fit for purpose?
How do you make the day room like a home from home? Welcoming and convivial so people chat, eat together and enjoy each others company, and old patients return on a weekly basis to sit and have a cuppa with their friends the ward team who helped them recover?
How do you personalise and comfort bereaved relatives , not just following the Trust policy but like you really mean it?
Where do you find the time to ensure staff training and development takes place despite clinical pressures and staff shortages?
Mmmmmm – no I didn’t know the answer to most of these questions either until I took a road trip to Gainsborough (no I didn’t know where that was either but luckily Mr StaNav did).
There I found:
A Chief Executive who spends 2 days a week out and about, walking the wards, talking to staff, the majority of whom he knew by first name. A Chief Exec who helps with Charitable Fund raising, is approachable, has a sense of humour and writes staff a weekly news letter in which he shares the latest episode of his dementia journey with his Dad.
I spoke with a Healthcare Apprentice, in her late teens, talking with an insight, pride and compassion beyond her years, about why she loves her job and why a family experience of supporting someone with terminal cancer made her ‘want to give something back’.
I met a Physio who just beamed with joy as she ran a chair exercise class, willing her patients on with a smile, humour and encouragement.
I met two ward business support officers who ran that ward, not with a rod of iron but with smiles, hugs, efficiency and a determination that nothing would pass them by unresolved.
I watched a rehab assistant who had almost telepathic skills in pre-empting what his patients needed, when to help and assist and when to let them do it themselves and all with a smile on his face and a witty retort.
I met a volunteer – a man who has long been a daily stalwart on the ward, a friend, a colleague and an inspiration for all – he truly is an essential part of the team.
Watching a student nurse, taking non verbal cues and support from a staff nurse as she engaged and supported a patient.
As the day unfolded I realised I was watching a harmonious, synchronised team, all working together intuitively, helping, laughing and pulling together instinctively.
The Director of Strategy and Comms leads popped in for tea and it was refreshing to see how proud of this team they were, not forced, not staged but genuine admiration.
This team fund raises, this team does the things most of us consider as out of the ordinary but they do it everyday . This team goes home and makes handmade cards to be given to bereaved relatives and you know what? They now put a present in the card (a packet of forget me knot seeds).
This team manages to keep ‘if this was my Mum, my brother or my partner, would it be good enough?’ at the forefront of everything they do.
How do they do it?
The ward is not some overstaffed paradise, on the day of my visit they were significantly understaffed, but they still did it.
As a team they benefit from stability – the ward has a great vibe and once you get a job there you seem to want to stay.
They work together well, they know each others strengths and weaknesses.
The organisational structure is supportive and open to ideas and challenges.
And last but not least, they have a clinical leader,who leads by example, a ward lead who wants the best for her patients and her team and thinks outside the box to make it happen.
A ward leader who goes the extra mile everyday because she doesn’t consider it to be the extra mile, its the norm. She has good days, she has bad days, she’s human but she never looses sight of what she is there for, she’s there to ensure her fabulous team have the time and space to do good things.
You can find of of their fabstuff here https://fabnhsstuff.net/search_gcse/?q=Scotter%20ward
The answer to how we can all make a difference every day is not to be found over the rainbow, its to be found in each and every one of us – and if you want the proof that that is true – go visit Gainsborough, find the John Coupland Hospital and head straight for Scotter Ward.
P.S they make exceedingly good cakes too