#CompassionLDN: NHS England - Leadership, culture and compassion conference

#CompassionLDN: NHS England - Leadership, culture and compassion conference

#CompassionLDN: NHS England – Leadership, culture and compassion conference

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On Wednesday 25th March 2015 NHS England hosted their second compassion in practice conference. This event brought together staff from all levels and disciplines across health and social care to discuss issues around embedding compassion into the leadership of organisations and how culture impacts on the delivery of compassionate care for patients.

Caroline Alexander, Chief Nurse, NHS England (London) opened the day by talking about her own leadership journey and how she believes collective leadership can make a difference to compassion in practice. Compassionate care is about everyone the whole system – not just doctors and nurses but AHPs and managers. Leadership is important for designing services to enable staff to deliver compassionate care and engaging and empowering staff, to achieve a cultural shift.

Louise Ashley, the Chief Nurse and Director of Quality and Governance at Central London Community Healthcare, then spoke about embedding the leadership challenge. Her presentation explored the myths around compassionate leadership being weak - it is not about being a self-serving leader but being authentic and honest. She defined successful leaders as having two roles:

  1. The compassionate role model
  2. The compassionate activist

Being a role model is about showing the direction of travel and clearly exhibiting the behaviours that are expected in your organisation. The role of being an activist is about campaigning and engaging people to take them on a journey towards compassionate leadership.

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Two members of staff from CLCH then shared their personal journeys around leading compassionately:

  • Sulekha Ali, District Nursing Team Leader talked about the importance of being visible, accessible and approachable to the people you lead. She made the clear connection between happy teams and happy patients.
  • Hubert Sakkariyas, Clinical Lead for Therapies talked about his motivation, as a compassionate leader, coming from seeing stuff work for his team – helping them to improve care for patients.

The Culture of Care Barometer

Jane Cummings then launched the Culture of Care Barometer – this is a new tool that has been developed to gauge the culture in organisations.

Baroness Emerton introduced the tool and explained how it had come about – following the Francis Inquiry and the Winterbourne View scandal, culture emerged as the key issue, which led her to put together a team to begin to explore how we could measure culture in organisations. This has become the culture of care barometer - a tool to assess an organisations culture and start a conversation about change.

Professor Dame Elizabeth Fraad, part of the team who developed the barometer described it as: a tool to get under the skin of an organisation to improve care. The tool has been developed with input from health professionals at all levels. The barometer is predominately designed to get people to talk to each other – starting discussion and dialogue to challenge practice. The team encouraged organisations to start using the barometer – but made it clear that it is a developmental rather than regulatory tool. You can access the tool here.

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In the afternoon the group broke out into a number of different workshops, one of which, Leading Differently for Better Outcomes was jointly led by Leila Hoda, from Clever Together and Teresa Chinn from WeNurses.

Leila opened the workshop by encouraging participants to consider the features of traditional forms of leadership, some of the ideas shared included:

  • Command and control
  • Unapproachable and absent
  • Confused communication
  • Restrictions on the autonomy of staff

Leila then invited the group to start thinking about leadership differently, each table discussed:

"What should leaders stop, start, or do differently in order to deliver outstanding results?"

Here are some of the ideas that people shared:

  • Listening better – upwards and downwards
  • Changing culture – from 'no' to 'yes'
  • Working together with other agencies
  • Visibility amongst staff
  • Giving permission to staff
  • Understanding frontline experience
  • Seeing the bigger picture
  • Fostering a no blame culture
  • Speaking positively – importance of language
  • Facilitating sharing ideas
  • Ensuring fairness

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Leila then presented Clever Together's leadership insights drawn from a compelling base of evidence: 21 projects, across 242 organisations, engaging 12,233 people, sharing 92,577 data points.

The points that the group had raised all linked back to four key areas identified from our research. Staff want their leaders to set the stage not perform on it, creating a space with:

  1. A co-created vision and set of shared values embedded at every level of the organisation
  2. Clarity on the organisation's plan to achieve this vision
  3. People management that inspires and empowers
  4. Staff engagement and collaborative decision making that delivers outstanding staff and patient outcomes

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Teresa, the founder of the WeNurses Community then looked at how leadership should be seen as a team sport. She invited each member of the group to share their own specialist subject, the breadth that existed just on one table, demonstrated the huge variety of knowledge that is out there; communities like WeNurses can help leaders tap into this knowledge. This includes both formal and informal leaders - she cited Kate Granger and Helen Bevan's use of social media as examples of this respectively. Leaders should tap into the collective and listen.

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You can read an overview of the event on Storify.

To find out more about our insights into what staff want from their leaders – download our report.