Creating the best possible culture and climate for staff by Caroline Donovan CEO @NSCHT1

Hi all

I started the week travelling to Liverpool to have my blasted leg scanned as following my knee operation in December 2013 I am still having significant problems. I did volunteer to be a guinea pig and join a pilot in the hope of avoiding the need for a knee replacement.

It is hard to remember if the pain I experience now is better than before the operation; I know I look longingly at people who are able to walk freely! I have had to adjust my lifestyle so much since I have had knee problems and am trying my best to give myself the best opportunities for any recovery through losing weight. The more people I tell, the more I am holding myself to account! Anyway, the medical view is I need more surgery which to be honest frightens me as it was so painful first time round.

I know I am probably being a wimp, but it also makes me reflect on how much people’s lives are affected when they experience poor health, particularly if it is on a long term basis which many of our service users experience and how much families have to adjust to accommodate and support their loved ones.

I was delighted that we were able to tell people about the significant improvements in our Staff Survey, click on the following to read about our progress – Trust among most improved NHS mental health providers in the country.

This really is good news as it is so important that we create the best possible culture and climate for staff to want to come and work in the Trust and stay working for the Trust. The highest calibre staff with the right skills and behaviours will enable us to deliver the highest quality care. We are trying hard at the moment to recruit more staff to ensure we have the right staffing levels across all our services. If you know anyone who may be interested in joining us please encourage them to apply.

We are currently planning another recruitment campaign and have already got adverts out. There is, however, one particular area of feedback from the Staff Survey that is of concern to me – staff confidence and security in reporting unsafe clinical practice. A total of 60% of our staff completed the staff survey and of those:

  • 98% said if they were concerned about unsafe clinical practice they would know how to report it. This is great; it means we have clear understanding of our reporting systems.
  • 62% would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice. This is not so good; we need to understand why 38% of people felt in doubt about raising concerns. As you know, we have launched Dear Caroline to enable anyone to write anonymously about any concerns they have. Ideally we wouldn’t need Dear Caroline as everyone would feel safe to raise concerns and feel listened to without any fear of negative consequences.
  • 51% felt confident that the organisation would address their concern. Again this is not good enough. Our staff need to feel that when they raise concerns, everything is done to address them and wherever possible improvements are made. They should feel communicated with and that information is shared openly.

A survey will shortly be going out to ask why you may feel we have issues about raising concerns and what you believe we could do to improve our culture around this. We will use this information to improve.

As you know, we have set ourselves a target to achieve a CQC ‘Good’ rating across all our services by September this year. We have therefore decided to use each of our Plenaries to update on progress, focus on areas of priority and share good practice. Our Plenary on Wednesday focused on Clinical Supervision and PDRs, which are key priorities.

It is essential that everyone has at least an annual PDR that is of high quality, provides the opportunity for reflection on their achievements, clarity on priorities for the year ahead and support and training. The new simplified paperwork has been developed to support the PDR process, and you can find the link to the PDR page on SID.

In addition to a PDR, it is important for our clinical staff that they have an opportunity for reflection and support with their clinical practice at least every two months. Plenary reviewed the progress made in Clinical Supervision and PDRs and received updates from each of the Directorates showing how they had improved. They also discussed the PDR process, the importance of ensuring PDRs and Clinical Supervision are given time and are done effectively and how we can make the process more accessible.

Thanks to everyone who attended and a reminder to team leaders, ward managers, professional leads and service managers to book the plenary into your diaries. It always takes place on the first Wednesday of the month in the Boardroom at Lawton House and is preceded by Team Brief.

The Listening into Action (LiA) Pass it On event takes place on Friday 6 May at Port Vale Football Club from 9.30am-4pm for the 14 Wave 3 LiA teams; please prioritise in your diaries and encourage anyone to attend regardless of any management role. This really is for everyone to engage in. It was great to have an update at the latest Sponsor Group meeting from Sarah Mountford, who is leading the Allied Health Professionals team. They have been reflecting on how we can make the Trust a better place to work for AHPs. It is important that we have a clear ethos of team working across the Trust whilst at the same time enabling the professional voice of our professional groups, who each bring their own specialist skills and need to be encouraged to have their own identities.

I am also pleased the Social Care Big Conversation is now planned for Monday 18 April. If you are a social care member of staff please try your best to come along. We are a health and social care Trust and again we need to ensure we are focusing on the unique contribution of our social care staff.

Meanwhile, th#NHS100Stories campaign, which celebrates and showcases the achievements of LiA teams from trusts across the country via Twitter has included a great story about the work of the Healthy Minds service to improve access to psychological therapies in Stoke-on-Trent. You can see all the stories by following @LiAJourney or by searching for the #NHS100Stories hashtag.

I also spent some time with my Chief Executive colleagues, CCG Accountable Officers and Local Authority Directors of Social Care. We spent a day together discussing our system challenges and priorities. There are as you know significant financial challenges across Staffordshire. The Staffordshire-wide Transformation programme Together We’re Better is designed to address these and I will be leading on mental health, digital and system leadership/OD with lots of support from clinicians and Directors across Staffordshire. I will keep you updated.

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