Chief executive's blog - 28 April 2016
In my personal blog, I'll keep you up to date on what's happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we're doing well and what we can improve.
Fiona Dalton, chief executive
I often talk about 'walking in other people's shoes' - I think it's so important to truly try to understand other people's hopes and dreams, their daily frustrations and their biggest challenges.
However, as with many things, it's easier to talk about it than actually do it! But I was delighted to have the opportunity when the CEO of Hampshire County Council and I agreed that we would each spend half a day in each other's organisation. So a few weeks ago he spent a day at UHS - including talking with the integrated discharge team, shadowing an elderly care ward round and seeing the site office juggling all the demands on our beds.
And then it was my turn to give half a day of my time to Hampshire County Council, to be used entirely as they wished. It was very interesting for me to meet their enthusiastic team leaders, including the managers for their re-ablement service and their residential homes – I could see their commitment to their service, and their teams, and their desire to provide the best care that they could.
And then I was very kindly taken to visit a council-run nursing home - covering nursing care, residential care and 'discharge to assess' (short term placements where patients are supported to either return home with more support, or to choose a permanent care home). I was impressed by the compassionate staff that I saw looking after some very dependent residents, and by the nice environment that was designed to be as much like home as possible. I was reminded how poor our acute ward environment is, in comparison, for those patients who are no longer acutely unwell.
It was good to talk to some of the staff and residents, and to see how the organisation was facing many of the same challenges as us - for instance, how to recruit and retain staff and how to value and support them. Enabling those residents (patients) who were able to go home to do so, given the current shortage of domiciliary care, was also a challenge for them and of course this is a very familiar issue to us too.
My reflections are firstly what a valuable exercise it was, and how much I would recommend to everyone that you try to find a small amount of time to 'walk in someone else's shoes' – whether that be a different team within the hospital, or within another health or social care organisation within Wessex.
Secondly, I realised how hard it was to honestly do this, and how much mental effort was needed to enter into someone else’s world, to listen to their issues and empathise with their challenges. I had to fight hard to suppress the voice in my head saying "but what about our patients?!".
But most importantly, the day reinforced to me how much we all share and how we are on the same side. There are so many vulnerable people in Hampshire who need our care. Whether they are elderly, or mentally or physically unwell ill, or children at risk, they need us to work together as the public sector. I know that in all health and social care organisations across our region there are many good people, facing similar staffing and financial challenges and trying very hard to do their absolute best to care for these vulnerable people. And I will keep trying to support this work, to enable us to overcome the organisational and financial barriers to closer working.
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