While attending the International Forum for Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Paris last month, I felt so privileged to be given the opportunity to be part of a global community which has such passion and enthusiasm for making healthcare better.
In her keynote address, Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, set the tone for the event. She described how healthcare is stuck in a gravitational pull of existing systems, and that to escape this requires new ideas, inspiration and collective impact. She said, “The power of an audacious goal accelerates change, bringing people together to make the impossible possible”. It was truly awe-inspiring.
One theme that was much talked about in many sessions was the importance of patient engagement. As Dr Morten Pytte from DNV-GL said, the call for patient-centred care, the 6 Cs, co-production and a collective approach to care has never been louder! It is clear that we need to bridge the gap between what we preach and what happens in practice.
This call for change carried through to Helen Bevan’s talk. The Chief Transformation Officer of Horizons Group, who spoke about five transformational themes to change healthcare, was the most powerful speaker for me. As both a Healthcare Support Worker and a student, I find that the expectation to change still predominantly follows a top-down approach – this can be unrealistic, and can lead to feelings of overburden, discouragement, and apathy.
Helen spoke about a new type of change, which is disruptive, and erodes hierarchical management by leading change from the “edge”. She made it clear that leaders aren’t necessarily needed to inspire people who do real improvement work. This is something that we need to understand to change the culture of patient safety and quality improvement, and to allow it to strengthen and spread.
This year, delegates at the Forum were asked to write pledges. I’ve added my pledge to the School for Health and Care Radicals, and NHS Change Day. My mind was buzzing with ideas from beginning to end, but the most important lesson I will take from the event is that change begins with me.
So how do we make this disruptive change in culture? I think the answer is a simple one – we need to become people again. It saddens me a little to say it, but even though we gain degree-level education to practice our profession, we sometimes need someone to remind us to ask those basic questions or even introduce ourselves. These are the important things we miss.
So let’s go back to being people, back to being honest, caring, communicative, and compassionate. After all, are these not a nurse’s fundamental attributes?
Helen Price is a Healthcare Support Worker and a Nursing Student at The University of South Wales.
Follow her on Twitter at @Price11216468