Guest post from Local Integration Lead, Elaine Rae

Great Care takes a Great Team

 Elaine Rae –Regional Improvement Lead – Glasgow - working with Scottish Care since July 2016

Talking with Scottish Care providers throughout the last year has been an excellent learning experience for me. I have heard such great stories from many courageous managers who find ways to work outside their comfort zone to do things they aren’t always sure they are ready for. Stories of how they took measured risks wherever they thought it would benefit those they cared and how this often paid off.

Like the story about one independently minded resident Alfie, who dearly wanted to go to the shops down the road for a paper by himself despite having challenges with walking. The manager and her team got together and discussed the likelihood of Alfie having a fall, but decided to be brave and take a risk to assess the situation. The following day they facilitated Alfie’s wishes, with a small caveat, to minimise the risk they sent a member of staff dressed in their own clothes to walk some way behind him (incognito) with clear instructions only to intervene if he got into difficulties. However, Alfie the determined surprised them all and went for his paper and back without a fall and only a few wobbles. On the way back he even met a few of his old neighbours and stopped for a catch up. From that day on the team agreed that they would always try to see risk as something to be measured and tested in real time.

For managers and their teams this type of person-centred approach usually leads to more activity and practice improvements and should be applauded. However it can also add more challenges to the average day, so I began to wonder,

How do Managers that are passionate about delivering great care keep finding the energy and motivation to keep doing more?  

 The answers I was given always mentioned the significance of having good people and great teams. Digging deeper Reza Najafian, a Glasgow provider  (Silverburn Care) said:

“understanding the barriers to change and being “Innovative is how we have always tackled more demands on our time, in this sector we are compelled to be entrepreneurial, focusing on solutions then working out the steps that help everyone get behind ideas”.  

In fact, problem-solving teams featured in all the stories I heard of overcoming adversity, risk or challenge. The consensus being GREAT CARE TOOK A GREAT TEAM, committed to “doing what they could  - where they were  - with what they had” this reminded me that:

So I thought I would share the top tips I learned from managers about how they get their teams to move from good to great:

  1. Get visual. Regardless of your role, or responsibilities, visualising information and ideas is an incredibly powerful tool to get your team thinking. Get off the phone, go in a room together (or a virtual room) and use pen and paper.
  2. Throw out the rule-book. Nothing is off the table or outside the realm of possibility. Avoid words and phrases like “but,” “how would we” and “we can’t.” If necessary, designate someone to ensure those phrases aren’t used and ask everyone to be honest.
  3. Work backward. Figure out the goal or ideal scenario 2 or 5 years down the road. Start there and work your way backward. Don’t worry about the “how.” Focus on the “what.” the road map will literally unfold itself.
  4.  Make a game of it. At the team meeting have everyone write a random idea down, crumple it up and toss it onto the centre of the table. Pick one idea and build on it. Ask those attending, “If you were me, how would you tackle this problem?”
  5. Write down everything. No thought is too small, and no idea is too “mad.” Anything can potentially add value to better care. You never know what word or phrase is going to spark the nextword or phrase, which could then lead to the next big idea. Get it all down on paper. Display it for all to see.
  6. Take mental breaks. A lot of leaders view social media as a time-waster, instead of recognising it as a mental break. It’s practically impossible to nurture creativity in a tired, burned-out brain. Encouraging mental breaks is the key to developing employees’ creative side and boosting morale.
  7. Take a trip. A social evening can relax your brain, making teams less focused on the negatives, and less likely to squash good ideas. The next time a solution is needed to a problem, organise a social event and get to work.
  8. Get physical. Go outside for a run, walk, bike ride or whatever activity suits. This will relax the mind, and afterward you can approach a problem or idea with a fresh brain. Inspiration might even strike.
  9. Play to your strengths. It’s a common misconception that creativity exists only in people with specifically “creative” roles and skills. In fact, any skill can be used creatively. Throw your ideas on to paper to categorise and dissect them and watch them develop.
  10. Get the words out. The hardest part of an innovation session, alone or in a group is getting the ball rolling. So just talk, or write. Start getting words out or down on paper, even if they’re borderline nonsensical. It’s all about getting over that initial hurdle, so the ideas can start flowing.

Two examples (from many) of great care stories happening now

  • 18 Glasgow care providers (and the teams they lead) were determined to enhance the quality of daily living for those experiencing memory impairment are involved in a Technology Enabled Care (TEC) project piloting two memory enhancing apps:

The apps above can be used anywhere with WiFi access to improve memory and cognition through the gift of story and recording memories.

A year into the project the results are looking great. People using the apps and their families are reporting improved recall & concentration. As well as more shared enjoyment in family visits because of memory and story work that is shared together as an activity.

  • 11 Glasgow providers who had been working hard to find ways to improve advance care planning and end-of-life care in their services… got involved in two Scottish Care research projects with other great teams:

The results of this work led to 12 recommendations. The teams who participated are now using the data to enhance practice and staff training to co-produce anticipatory care plans with people utilising their services - taking account of their wishes around planning a good life and death.

I have given the last word to David Reilly (Operations Director, Baillieston Community Care) one of Scottish Care’s consistently top providers:

Sites to inspire your team to do more great Team Work:

The Royal College of Nursing 

The Centre for Nursing Innovation

Scottish Health Innovations Ltd - Works in partnership with NHS Scotland to protect and develop new innovations that come from healthcare professionals.

Care @ Home and Innovation

 User-Led approaches to Care @ Home:

School of Health Care Radicals:

 Sign up for your RCN innovation Newsletter here

Promoting Innovation in the workplace

Re-imagining care homes: our care home innovation centre




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