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Joining the dots

My first blog was written in March 2014 and was partly inspired by the NHS Change day initiative, which encourages individuals, groups and organisations to make a pledge for positive change. Now a year on I’m reflecting back and looking at new connections made since then.

The whole initiative really captured my imagination, as I firmly believe in the power of one individual to inspire others and then through connections and networks to set off a chain reaction for the better.              People-Bulbs-1-01

This March 2015 Change day took place again and I made another pledge, which this year is to promote and share good
practice in patient experience in health and social care by using positively my personal experience as a patient with long-term conditions and my professional and voluntary connections. More detail can be found here.

I’ve recently, in February 2015, become a member of the co-production group of the Coalition for Collaborative Care (C4CC) where each person in the co-production group either has, or is a carer of someone with, Long Term Conditions. I’m hoping that together with the whole team at C4CC I can contribute to positive changes in the way health and social care is designed, delivered and evaluated for people with Long Term Conditions. For more details see: and

As one lone individual, who can now only work part-time because of health issues, it can feel a bit isolating sometimes not having a substantive full-time role and function as I did in the past. But what keeps me going is the opportunity to identify and encourage more productive connections to be made within, across and beyond the different groups I work with in health and social care.

Using social media and Twitter in particular has for me opened up a wide breadth of possibilities in making new connections, strengthening existing ones and trying to be a positive catalyst for debate and change.

One very successful catalyst for positive change in health and social care is Gill Phillips who created Whose Shoes, a co-production tool to help people work together to improve lives, and who I met first on Twitter

and had the pleasure of meeting in person quite recently in London.

Gill has also introduced me to the joys of Pinterest and I found this poster on one of Gill’s board (now pinned on one of mine!), which made me think a bit more about this whole connections issue.

 Joining dots

I’m connected to a number of health related groups and individuals through voluntary and Lay member roles in the NHS and if I mapped this out the page it would look quite busy but that’s not an end in itself and indeed could quite rightly be described as merely a ‘collection of dots’.

What is really important is what happens when the dots get connected or joined up such as for example when the North West NHS Lay members network meet up at Quarterly meetings and share information, ideas or discuss current topics and challenges.

But the story doesn’t end there as even though there is value in doing all of those things together, ‘dots’ sharing and thinking things through as it were. It is what happens when people go back to their own organisations and use what they have learned, digested or thought about to inform decisions and make changes that will improve health services for others that will make the biggest positive difference.

I’m now looking at all the ‘dots’ I’ve collected and seeing if I’ve made or enabled productive connections and what is happening or could happen because of those connections.

In the same way on the NHS Change day website they want to hear about actions that are taking place following people’s pledges or undertakings this year so that they can be shared and inspire others too.

So are you joining the dots and enabling positive connections in whatever you do?

And finally are you using your wider connections to share what you’ve done and inspire others? I’d love to hear about what you’ve done and share it.

Check out your dots-are they connected?

Small things brought together

Change, Compassion and Connection


On Monday, 3 March NHS Change Day was celebrated. Hundreds of people in the NHS all over the country made pledges about something they would do to improve how they work. Or another way to put it is to make changes, however small, to benefit others.

At the NHS Health & Care Innovation Expo 2014 in Manchester last week I was able to see many of the pledges which were displayed there, but more importantly the enthusiasm and commitment of the people attending.

Many of the stands at the event displayed innovations using technology to integrate health and care information and to improve support for professionals and patients in many ways. It struck me that it was all about making better connections of information as well as ways to connect people too so they don’t feel isolated or alone if suffering ill health that restricts them.

One patient who felt that professionals weren’t connecting with her as a human being was Dr Kate Granger – a doctor, and a terminally ill cancer patient. In September 2013 Kate blogged and tweeted challenging health professionals to remember to introduce themselves when seeing a patient.

The #hellomynameis campaign took off and went viral in a very short space of time. Professionals across the NHS rose to the challenge to ensure that professionals demonstrated compassion by connecting with patients in this simple and human way.

To hear more about the outcomes of this initiative I recommend you spend a few minutes watching this video.

Small changes, connecting compassionately with patients and the people we work with can make a positive difference so do take a look at the pledges already made and see if you’d like to sign up for one or more of them or make your own. You’ve got until 31 March to do so here.

I’ve joined two pledges for NHS Change day. The first is “I pledge to develop my wellbeing and emotional resilience and encourage those around me to do the same”, set by Dr Alys Cole-King.

This pledge struck a chord with me as I know from experience how looking after your own wellbeing and resilience can often take a back seat when you’re striving to see some piece of work through or to help others. This is not ‘soft and fluffy stuff’, but, I’d suggest, a necessity to be a healthy human being and effective professional.

For example, I know that I need to pay attention to getting enough sleep, as lack of stamina is a big issue for me due to chronic pain, and I’m wondering what you do to help yourself to maintain your wellbeing when the going gets tough?

The second pledge I joined is “to make every contact count every day”, set by Debbie Holman from Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

This pledge made me wonder – am I really aware of the potential impact I can have on the people I connect with, whether that is at home, work, volunteering, shopping or through social media? I’m reflecting on how positive an experience I make these. Who have you connected with today and how did that go?

Change Day