Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Week of Successes, Endorsements, Compassion, Care and Celebrations

Last week was another jam packed one at work. Monday was our School Executive. These are always busy meetings. We spend time on a mixture of governance, management and leadership issues as well as looking forward to new opportunities. This week we focused on how we might best address the new and emergent opportunities overseas. These are plenty and possibly the biggest area of new business growth for the School. It was clear we need to examine our current methods of delivery and to look at what we can change in order that the potential of the new opportunities might be realised.  

Part of the need to change how we do things arises from some great recent successes. Last week 3 colleagues were made Readers (well done Tracey, Sue and Alison); I signed off 3 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP), and 4 research projects totalling nearly £800000 in income over the next 3 years. Our social science programmes successfully registered 46 additional students this year, and our counselling and psychotherapy programmes an additional 20 students (worth £2m additional income over the next 3 years) and we registered 17 new PhD students, who on Thursday joined our existing students when they presented their work at our School 'Celebrating Postgraduate Day'.

Last Tuesday the College of Social Work visited for the day and endorsed our Health and Care Professions Council approved part time Social Work programme. As a School we now have the largest portfolio of undergraduate, postgraduate and post-qualifying social work programmes in the North West. It is a great credit to our social work colleagues that they achieved the endorsement.

Wednesday I was across in Leeds at Blenheim House, the HQ of Health Education England (HEE), which is the organisation that spends over £5bn a year on health professions training. I was there to chair a sub group of the HEE national working group charged with transforming community and primary nursing care. I felt very privileged to be part of a group of colleagues who had so many examples of best practice today, and so many creative suggestions for transforming our nursing tomorrows.   

Thursday I spent the afternoon at the glorious Palace Hotel in Manchester. It’s a fantastic building and its industrial heritage has been so wonderfully preserved and given a contemporary use. The food served was a bit mediocre despite the grand surroundings. However I was there not to admire the architecture, or as a restaurant critic, but to chair an afternoon’s conference/workshop on student nurse retention, organised by Health Education North West. The issues and cost associated with students leaving their degree programme before completing are well known, and well researched. There was a brief reminder of some of these challenges but the main thrust of the afternoon was in the sharing of best practice examples of activities that were reducing the student attrition rates.

Representatives from all the Universities in the North West were there as were representatives from all our NHS hospital and community providers. Like me, it seemed that many of the participants were inspired and enthused by the ideas and examples that were presented and discussed. I was pleased that 3 colleagues from our School (Moira, Lesley and Neil) presented their work, which I know from a year on year increase in our retention rates, is really having an impact.

I was touched on Friday to see the story of the horse called Bronwen, who had been part of Sheila Marsh’s life for 25 years. Sheila was a patient at the Royal Albert Edward Hospital in Wigan where she was being treated for cancer. Sadly, last week she died, but before she did she asked to see her horse Bronwen, and staff from the hospital did just that. They brought the horse to the car-park and wheeled Sheila out in her bed. Although Shelia had difficulty speaking because of her illness, she called softly to the horse, who walked up to her and kissed Shelia on the cheek as they appeared to say goodbye to each other. The photo of this event went viral on the internet. It was a great example of the compassion shown to all patients and their families something I think the hospital should be justifiably proud of.

Friday night I was also in Wigan. At the DW Football Stadium in fact. Now this does not have the grand surroundings and ambiance of the Palace Hotel, but the meal I had there was immeasurably better. But again I wasn't there to admire the architecture or as a food critic, but as a Non-Executive Director of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (the same trust that manages the Royal Albert Edward Hospital). It was the annual recognising excellence award night. 400 colleagues from across the Trust, whose work had been short listed for an award, were in attendance. 

The theme for the night was a Masquerade Ball, and every one had made an effort to comply with the dress code. It was a great night of colour, celebration, with much laughter, enjoyment, appreciation and pride. The awards went to clinical and non- clinical staff, to those in the front line of providing care and those who worked in support services. For me it was the perfect way to end a very hectic week.