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150 managers and team leaders 'pick up the LiA baton' in Birmingham & Solihull

Mon 12th January, 2015
150 managers and team leaders 'pick up the LiA baton' in Birmingham & Solihull

Last month John Short, Chief Executive at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust hosted a large LiA Master Class event. Having started their LiA journey in 2013, it has now reached ‘a tipping point' where it is beginning to embed into business as usual. Moving into 2015 the Trust plans to build on this momentum, involving staff right across the Trust to drive through changes for the benefit of their service users.

The room was packed with more than 150 ward managers and team leaders - exceeding the number of invitations sent out - and the buzz was fantastic. John began the day with a ‘call to arms’ saying: “Collectively we are going somewhere different as a Trust. We need to fundamentally change the way we operate day in day out, and we will only deliver real excellence if we embed LiA in our Trust. That is down to each and every one of us, and it is up to each and every one of you to pick this up and run with it”.

Involving leaders across the Trust who manage teams of frontline staff every day is key to making things happen. As John told them: “YOU are the power in the room”.

Almost 70 staff teams have already been involved in LiA and a further 20 teams have recently mobilised, all with a clear mission to improve the quality and safety of care for their service users. Some of those who have been involved in teams came along to share their experiences of LiA, as inspiration for their colleagues. One team member said: “I was sceptical at first, but LiA has empowered everyone throughout the service to improve care for patients and help recovery”. Another Pioneer Team - a forensic service - have achieved everything they initially set out to do, and are now using the LiA way of working to constantly review their services and come together around actions. They said: “Following the process works and people want to do it”.

The event was run as an LiA Big Conversation. Staff divided across 15 tables were asked what problems or issues in their service could they use LiA to solve. There was a real feel of collaboration and ownership even though many of the staff had never met before. At times you could hear a pin drop while they thought individually about the issues that affect service users and staff in their areas, followed by lots of enthusiastic chat and deafening noise levels as they shared their ideas. The energy and excitement was palpable.

All of the ideas generated were captured right there and then by a team of ‘scribes’ to ensure that they can be translated into actions. A small selection of staff ideas for improvements identified on the day included:

  • Revamping the security staff role to involve them more clinically in forensic services
  • Providing gym facilities for inpatients
  • Improving facilities for elderly service users
  • Reducing DNA rates
  • Providing a 7 day Occupational Health service
  • Improving services for carers
  • Involving recovered service users in the volunteer service.

In addition, the managers and team leaders were asked to come up with three ideas per table of what they could do to quickly to ‘unblock the way’ for their staff to make it easier to do their job, focusing on 'low hanging fruit' and no-brainers. Removing some of the smallest day-to-day niggles can make a huge difference. Some of these suggestions included:

  • Purchasing a cordless phone so that staff no longer needed to run down a ward to answer it
  • Diverting phone calls for one hour per day to free up time to spend with patients
  • Using dictation software to make it easier to write up notes
  • Locking offices twice a day so that clinical staff are able to spend more time on wards
  • Stopping 'reply to all' to help reduce email overload.

John wrapped up the day by thanking everyone for their attendance and participation with a clear message that action needs to follow: “We all have a responsibility to contribute so that changes do take place and sustain – standing still is not acceptable”. There will be a follow-up event in May when John will invite the same staff to share and celebrate what they have achieved in their areas and the effect this has had on their service users and staff.


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