Sunday, 31 July 2011

Week Two, Sunshine and the Return of the Beard

On Friday I returned from a week’s holiday in Scotland, and I brought the sunshine back with me. Little did I know when I wrote last week that I was hoping for some sunshine that the week would be so gorgeous weather wise. All week, I have enjoyed blazing sun, temperatures in the mid twenties and some very lazy days walking, reading and simply sitting and watching the world go by.

Foolishly, I decided on day three of my holiday to shave my beard off – not sure why, it just seemed a good idea at the time. Then after shaving for just two days, and with a face as sore as anything, and cut to ribbons, I  decided to let the beard grow again – hopefully normal service will be resumed by the time I get back into work!

I felt incredibly guilty thinking about all those early years of my nursing career where it was ‘normal’ to shave the male patients every morning – I cannot recall anyone asking the patients if they wanted to shave or not.

 I have a little time to re-grow my beard as unusually (for me), I am having two weeks annual leave back to back. Whilst the first week was total self indulgent relaxation the second week is destined to be spent catching up on all those jobs that simply don’t get done at the weekend. It will be a hectic week but rejuvenating nevertheless.

There is plenty of relaxation time built in to the week’s schedule and Cello certainly knows how to deal with the heat and truly understands the art of relaxation.

Anyway, as well as my beard returning next week, the blogs normal service will also re-commence next weekend!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Time to Sit and Contemplate

Thankfully it’s time to take a step back, and to sit and contemplate.

I'm on my way to Scotland to enjoy the wide open spaces, the relaxing sound of the sea, and hopefully some warm sunshine – but I will be back to write the blog in a week’s time!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

ECQ makes it a good week, even if the weather was a little wet and dry!

This week the quality of our nursing and midwifery programmes were assessed by the NHS North West using the Education Commissioning for Quality (ECQ) framework of metrics. This approach is a Department of Health must do, designed to ensure that the provision of all healthcare education is reviewed, quality assured, performance managed and in our case, meets the requirements of NHS North West health care workforce. For those Universities providing education and training programmes for health care professions, the ECQ approach is a critical improvement process. The results ensure that all educational and placement providers are working against agreed standards of provision and providing value for money. The ECQ process also allows for the formal identification of areas where educational provision can be enhanced beyond what is currently accepted as the standard provision. However, if we get it wrong there are possible financial consequences for the School as the commissioning of programmes can be reduced or even moved to another provider entirely. However, the process is also an important opportunity to present any areas of exemplary practice, which we took to show case our work over the past 12 months.

The ECQ process is an evidence based one, using nationally agreed metrics. Each University is rated on a traffic light scheme (Red = unacceptable/high risk; amber = concern/areas to be addressed; green = no problems).  I am pleased to say that we scored all greens! And just for good measure our Social Work colleagues had the results back  from the General Social Care Council of their equivalent quality assessment process and again we scored all greens.

So the outcome was really good news. The results point to excellent team working across the School by all academic and professional support staff in continuing towards our ambition of becoming known internationally for the quality of our education and training programmes and the creative ways in which we prepare nurses, social workers and midwives for the future.

The week was a busy one all round. It ended on Friday with a day spent in the V+A hotel at the last College Executive retreat of this academic period. The conversations and discussion were productive and despite the sometimes powerful egos sitting around the table, the debate was nowhere near as dramatic as the weather outside the rooms’ big picture windows. All day there was sunshine followed by rain and hail in equal measure. I should have known Friday’s weather was a spooky portend for the weekend.

Yesterday started warm and grey, but after a quick burst of rain we settled into a warm sunny morning. By the time the chores were done and it was time to take Cello out the sun was shining and I strode out confidently dressed in sandals, shorts and t-shirt. However, after just 10 minutes, the blue sky, turned black, and we were engulfed in a monsoon like down pour. Both Cello and I were soaked to the skin. Thankfully by the time we got to the top of the hill on Joan’s Field, the sun came out and started to dry us off. Apart from some frizzy hair (mine not Cello’s) there were no ill effects. From this hill, it’s possible to see right across the Manchester Plain to Blackpool and Manchester (the Hilton Hotel is clear to see), and on very good days it is possible to even see the mountain slopes of Wales. Whatever the time of day or weather, it is one of my favourite local walks.

And my favourite quote of the week was to be found in this week’s Nursing Times (the online version): You have two things to offer a patient: humanity and technical competence. You are rarely much use to people without both and, if you lack one element, you probably won’t be able to do the other well. The quote came Professor Peter Griffiths Head of Health Services Research at the University of Southampton, and Executive Editor of the International Journal of Nursing Studies, and for me, the quote encapsulated our approach to what it is we are trying to achieve across the School in preparing our students for professional practice.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Summer Conference, CPD, Cello, and Cheesy Chips

There was a real buzz to the Mary Seacole Building this week. The Education in a Changing Environment Conference came for three days this week.

It was the 6th International Conference and this year the very best practice in teaching and educational research in higher education was explored and presented through themes of Social Media; Learning, Teaching and Assessment; Networking and Partnerships. Throughout the three days I only heard good things being said by the delegates, which when one thinks about the enormous changes affecting Universities at present, was very heartening. 

The inner gardens of the Mary Seacole Building were transformed as a place to enjoy food, music and good company. Each day there was different food to try, and different music to hear. The smells and sounds were delicious and very tempting – I however, conscious of my ever expanding waist line, reluctantly resisted the temptation. The funniest moment of the conference was hearing about the highly embarrassed electrician, extension lead in hand, looking for a plug socket. Someone had forgotten that electric guitars and amplifiers need real electricity to power them. The situation was saved by our School Administrator, who heroically gave up her kettle plug so that we could all get to hear the music – Well done Angela!

There was no such problem for me earlier in the week when I attended NHS North West at 3 Piccadilly Place, Manchester.

I was there to take part in a discussion around the future arrangements for CPD commissioning in the North West. Now 3 Piccadilly Place is a relatively new building and bears no resemblance to the old SHA headquarters, which can still be seen from the 11th floor. It is all floor to ceiling windows, Terrance Conran furniture and furnishings and absolutely no detail has been left unaccounted for. Everything is automatic, you won’t get past the security unless your name has been lodged with them, the lifts take you only to the floor you select, and even the gents toilets have a vase full of fresh flowers!

The meeting was for the North West Deans and Heads of School to discuss how in the brave new world of a transformed NHS, continuous professional development of the workforce was going to be achieved. In the future it will be possible for each NHS Trust to use 30% of funds to currently given to each University in any way they see fit. 30% of this funding must be kept to ensure core CPD provision is available and 40% is to be used in more flexible ways – again determined by each Trust, but delivered by each of the North West Universities. Given that up to now all the money has come to the School, it really did feel like the dawning of a brave new world.

Cellos world also changed this week. He was transformed from a shaggy slightly overweight looking beastie to a slim, sleek, carefully coiffered handsome dog. Yes it was his ten week visit to the dog groomers this week. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his owner. Not only is my six weekly visit to the hairdresser overdue, I must confess that despite resisting the temptation of the ECE lunch time gastro extravaganzas all week, I was so easily persuaded on Friday that eating a large bowl of cheesy chips was a good thing to do. BUT it was a great bowl of chips, and a bowl of chips to die for. I know they were 100% full of carbohydrates!

And this morning’s blog posting is the 100th blog posted since I began. Many thanks to all of you who read the blog (now over 17000 hits a month a month), and I promise to try and make it easier for you to leave comments when the University moves to its new web system later on this year. But it is brilliant knowing that when I sit in the quietness of my house at 05.00 am on a Sunday morning, that so many people will later on in the day, read about my (sometimes strange) view on the world, and what I have thought of my week or my take on what has happened in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Salford. I am humbled and pleased in equal measure. Thank you.   

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Informing Our Practice: Art or Technology?

In 2005 the RCN published a research report on the information needs of Nurses. It made very sober reading and reflected a world within a world where access to information to underpin evidence-based practice seemed limited and unachievable. The usual suspects were to blame; employers not allowing staff time to find information, access to computers and the internet was said to be limited. A significant number of the respondents (15%) claimed to have no access to a computer at work. The recommendations were also interesting – provision of more information skills training, the provision of value-added information services which help nurses find good quality, up to date, relevant evidence in manageable amounts, and greater access to physical and electronic libraries, librarians and other online services.

Reading the report now it seems an astonishing tale and one that is difficult to understand. Back in 2005 a survey, conducted for the BBC World Service by Canadian pollsters GlobeScan, asked people in 27 different countries what event of global significance did they think was the most important in 2005? Whilst there was no disagreement as to what these events were: the war in Iraq, Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, death of Pope John Paul, London bombings, Pakistan earthquake, Bali bombings and Avian flu, in some countries these events were given greater significance than others.

So for example, the war in Iraq was the most significant event for 15% of all of those polled, although 43% of Iraqis saw it as the most significant whereas only 9% in the UK made it their top event. It was suggested by GlobeScan that the extent to which people in different countries perceive the same events as significant is a sign of how much the world has become globalised – I argue that it is access and movement of information that facilitates this globalisation. Street level capture and dissemination of information and events is now easily possible allowing for contemporaneous observation and comment on a huge range of occurrences worldwide.

I mention the RCN survey, because this week I opened the 6th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference hosted by the School. My thanks to Alison and Maria for having the vision and faith to make this conference happen. There were 170 delegates from 15 different countries, plus many more delegates accessing the conference through a real-time on-line programme. In my paper I presented my ideas around learning and working at the edges of knowledge, knowing and not-knowing, and I had great fun. It was one of those occasions where what I set out to do in a very serious way became a humorous and much more light hearted challenge to our thinking. I think the RCN probably got it right in 2005, but in a world where I now have more computing power and communication access in my smart phone than I have in my lap top, I think it will increasingly important that we help our colleagues not just how to better access information, but also develop new strategies for how that information can be used as an evidence base for our practice.

Nick, another colleague working in our School is Editor-in-Chief of Informatics for the Health and Social Care journal, and he does just that on an international stage, the journals impact factor has gone from 0.471 to a 1.000 this year. Likewise the journal I’m Associate editor of, the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing has this year just received its first impact factor of 1.427. But it’s not just words that can make a difference. It is also how and where the words are delivered that can be important. Like me, I am sure there is is somewhere you might have been to where the company, place and conversational focus all come together, and where the resultant experience is then so good. I think this may be the case for at least one of my colleagues this week.

Across the world this week, in Durban, South Africa, a midwife with more than 30 years experience in developing midwifery practice and service management, Frances Day-Stirk’s was confirmed as President of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). Her professional interests include the organisation of maternity services, homebirth, promoting normal childbirth, newborn care and safer motherhood. She is a widely published writer and in particular on her ideas about learning research and practice development.

Elaine one of our Midwifery team was also there in Durban and she was there to promote her work on using art to further our understanding of effective midwifery practice. The world is becoming a smaller place as a consequence of new technology and how we realise the potential of access to information, but it is enriched by the way in which we promote the creativity that’s there in all of us.

And without this blog becoming like a popular film title, I ended this week not at a funeral, but at a wedding. Which was a joyous occasion. I want to wish Samantha and Dean all the very best for their future - and can say the NHS is safe in your hands!