Hi my name is Jonathan and I am the Involvement Centre Manager in Nottingham. What does it mean to manage an Involvement Centre? Well the answer is varied and never the same!
My job is not boring, sometimes challenging and can be very rewarding. I often think of myself as having three bosses, my line manager, the Trust and all the volunteers that I work with and have a duty to make sure they are heard.
The reason I come into work is to improve and change services for people that receive them. Which I believe is the main reason everybody in the NHS comes into work. We (staff) just sometimes get a little pressured to deliver on targets that don’t always work for the person that is in front of you that day.
I hope the work we do within Involvement means that we can deliver on those targets without forgetting what is most important to those that receive treatment and care. The care part is really important; the NHS is a world leader at ‘treatment’ but sometimes we fall down on the ‘care’ part, and its’ then that people feel dehumanised and frustrated.
Let’s talk to each other, find out what we all would like. Be honest about what we can do, and completely honest about what we can’t do. Ask ourselves ‘would that feel ok if it was my Mum being cared for’?
Involvement gives us a chance to stand back and think about services in this way. We should always listen, but more importantly we should all be part of the solutions that we find.
That’s why I come to work – and not everyday is like that, but enough are.
Hello my name is Amanda. I am Involvement and Experience Manager and this is my first job in the NHS. I am finding my new role to be very rewarding and diverse: ensuring that the voices of patients, service users, and carers are heard to bring about changes and improvements in services. Also, to ensure that patient, service user and carer involvement and experience is a key part of the culture of the Trust, my role is to work with colleagues to review plans and activities to develop and share good practice.
I am gaining great job satisfaction from seeing how patient feedback really does bring about changes and have learned that the smallest things really matter. My new mantra is, “Do sweat the small stuff”, because enabling small changes to happen can have such a positive impact on the life of an individual. So please have a look at Your Feedback Matters to see what we are doing or indeed leave your own story at Patient Opinion.
I have been interested in health-related issues for as long as I can remember and prior to my current role worked in Connexions and then the Local Authority, directly supporting young people and then managing diverse projects and teams with a focus on developing integrated practices, in partnership with a range of other professionals to support and help vulnerable families with a range of issues.
As for my life out of work, I am an arts graduate with a keen interest in art and fashion, with a particular passion for re-fashioning and re-cycling as well as street-style photography and how fashion is sourced from and displayed in non-traditional spaces. I also like raising money for various charities and travelling.
I started my journey with the Involvement team by volunteering at the Nottingham centre. I am a service user and very passionate about the work of the Trust which genuinely involves people. I did two years at the Nottingham centre, volunteering my time helped me in my own road to recovery. Being able to use old skills I had gained throughout my working life and bring them to my involvement was instrumental in helping me return to work after some 12 years off sick with mental illness.
In 2008 I got the opportunity as a volunteer to help set up the second involvement Centre in New Ollerton (now the Rosewood involvement Centre). As the centre needed staff I believed I was well enough to apply for the involvement development worker post. I didn’t expect to be offered a job but thought the interview process would help me in my own development. I was in some kind of shock and surprise when I was offered the full-time post. After one year I was promoted to be the centre manager.
Since 2008 the Rosewood Centre has grown and developed to include not just working in the centre but also a great deal of outreach work north of the county and in the forensic division namely Rampton and Wathwood hospital.
In the Rosewood Centre itself we have core days of activities which include:
A communications group which produces pieces for the Trust magazine (Positive), articles for the annual report, and, increasingly, work around feedback on our services and on social media.
A weekly centre meeting with invited guests. These guests are a variety of people from trust staff which can include any position in the Trust: from healthcare support worker to chief executive and everything in between. This is an opportunity for service users and carers to listen to staff and have an opportunity to question them and give them feedback. We also invite a broad range of individuals as part of our partnership working with organisations such as our local clinical commissioning group, Healthwatch, and Mind.
We also have ad hoc days where we deliver training and development for service users and carers: this can be anything from the food hygiene to safeguarding. The Trust’s learning and development department help us deliver some of this training. This year we intend to promote more learning and development for our volunteers and have adapted some core training for all to attend. This should promote confidence and give a greater understanding of some of the work we do inside and outside the centres. These courses include audit training, confidentiality and safeguarding, involvement in interviewing, and patient feedback training. We also deliver training to patients in the forensic division which is very rewarding. This work is linked to the recovery college campuses and all courses are co-produced with service users and carers and staff.
All of our work links to one or more of our core activities: changing services, changing lives, and changing culture.
There are also a great deal of opportunities for people to attend the centre which help them with their own confidence and recovery. We have a weekly garden and music group, Friday is our main day with the centre meeting on that day as well as social inclusion activities.
I am the involvement interview teams lead for involvement. We have developed this process over the last eight years and have won awards for this work. We are involved in a great many interviews across the whole trust: all posts from staff nurses to directors to ward managers to executive directors and so on.
I continue to walk the road to recovery with my own mental health illness and am supported at work by the team. I do believe using my own lived experience (being on a ward myself, having been sectioned, and receiving care in the community from my CPN over the last 12 years) is very beneficial not only to the staff team but to service users and carers who attend the Rosewood Centre and also our outreach work.
As the manager of Volunteering and Befriending Services (or VBS for short), I have been chosen to write one of the first blogs to tell you a bit about me and the service that we offer. Over the next few months you will be able to meet the team. You will be able to find out about what it is like to volunteer or be a befriender and how we play a part helping to change the lives, services and culture of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
I have been manager here since 2012. Before that I was the co-ordinator and before that I was the Administration Assistant, all in all I have been here over ten years. I cannot believe that I have been here so long.
I love working here and am very proud of the wonderful staff and volunteers and the service that they offer, as well as the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and the way that they help people on our wards and in the community. From serving teas and coffees to feeding patients and spending time chatting with patients, it’s all so rewarding to see. The effect that they have on our service users and staff is really positive. In the coming months I hope to share some of these stories with you all.
What makes the job so interesting is that you never know what you are going to be doing from one day to the next. The job has changed enormously in the last few years and there are many challenges to face. Volunteering and Befriending Services has been around our Trust for over fifty years and if I have anything to do with it we will be here for at least the next fifty!
I worked in the NHS for some time as a nurse, leaving in 2000 to work in the voluntary sector, vowing not to come back into the NHS until I could make some real change: for people to be treated as people, and not just physiological systems or functions. My philosophy has always been one of supporting people to do things for themselves, be it personally or professionally, for health, development and progression.
Supporting independent advocacy and involvement initiatives for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities, their carers and families, I loved working in the voluntary sector. Providing quality grassroots and genuinely person-centred/ directed services, it really is all about people. Having lived experience as a service user and carer, it really is less about ‘us and them’ and more about ‘us’.
I came back into the NHS by default: working part-time for NHS Direct initially as a way of maintaining my nursing registration and clinical practice, I found it to be a diverse and forward-thinking environment, with many challenges for working across primary/ secondary care and community-based services for people to have the right care or support at the right time from the right person. I went on to become the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Lead for the East Midlands region, bringing communities together and helping them to speak with each other. I worked also on national initiatives including branding, marketing, communication, online engagement and digital health, for which we won various awards.
So now I was back in the NHS and making a difference. The law had changed, giving patients and carers much more say in what happens to them, with a legal requirement for them to be involved in their care, service and organisation. Now, not only did we have to ask people what they thought about things, but we had to do something with that information. Radical!
In 2008 I started working for community health services as Patient, Carer and Public Engagement Manager. Nottinghamshire Community Health (now, along with Bassetlaw, known as Health Partnerships) became part of the Trust in 2011, at which time I became part of the Involvement Team.
My job title doesn’t really mean that much to people: basically, I listen to what people think about the service, then work with staff teams and communities to share good practice or make changes to improve the quality of service and patient/ carer experience. The biggest cultural shift is for people to be confident enough to share their experience and staff to be confident enough to listen and respond to it.
I knew that I wanted to see what works in the voluntary and community sector work in the NHS: people working together, respected for their skills and experience, with the freedom to have their say, be creative and responsive without so much bureaucracy that innovation is stifled. I always felt I was swimming against the tide in the NHS, only now do I feel that with truly integrated care and working together the tide has turned and real change can become a reality. Bring it on!
On a personal note, I love reading, crafting, travelling, dogs and biking, and can often be seen doing all at once…
Hello my name is Jane. I have worked in the NHS for a (very!) long time and worked in the Involvement Team for over seven years. I started off in a Mental Health Day Centre in Broad Street Nottingham and supported service users on their journey to recovery. I became the first person to be called ‘Community Bridgebuilder’ for volunteering in the Trust. I placed our service users into voluntary roles both within the Trust and in community settings and once again, found myself in a role that enabled recovery which I loved.
After this I worked in Intellectual Developmental Disabilities or Learning Disabilities Services (as it was known then) at Highbury Hospital. I transferred to The Inclusion Team then moved yet again (I like travelling!) and managed a team in the Community to set up education and volunteering opportunities at a Health Living Centre in Nottingham City.
My current role is diverse and rewarding. Patient Experience is really important in my job. Since 2009 real time feedback has become increasingly important.
Being part of changes in NHS services is a huge motivator. Some people who access our services are vulnerable and don’t have a ‘voice’ to express their views and need support to feedback so we try to make this easier for those people. A strong partnership with Patient Opinion and our Service User and Carer Experience (SUCE) survey provides the evidence of these changes. People can see publicly that their feedback has been heard and acted upon. Nottinghamshire Healthcare feedback website is a first. Have a look.
I have been astounded by the impact of stories and the lives that we change, often without realising it. New technology and social media helps us to target hard to reach areas. Staff who really listen and respond to their feedback in real time gives them ownership of feedback delivered to the heart of their team where it really matters.
The other passion in my work is to ensure carers, families and friends are heard and are involved with the Trust in the way they want to be. We are working hard to give equality to our carers, families and friends. They are often the people who can tell us most about the person they care for.
And a bit about me out of work. I’m an arts graduate who ended up running an outdoor pursuits business in Northumberland quite by chance, and me, a dedicated non athlete!
I’m also a Dementia Champion volunteer raising awareness on how to become dementia friendly in the local community. I also love digital photography and social media.
Inspired by the wonderful Hello my name is campaign we’ll be running some posts to get us started from members of the Involvement team introducing ourselves and our work. I’ve volunteered myself to go first, so here we go…
Hello, my name is Chris. I started working with the Involvement team about 5 years ago. We were just starting to collect survey data across the Trust and I got involved because of my previous experience with survey design and analysis. At the time I was an evaluator/ researcher at the Institute of Mental Health with an interest in using surveys and other routine data collected within mental health services. The work on feedback in the Trust is now so large and important to the Trust that I have now moved over full time to the team.
I’ve worked in Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust for 14 years now, I’ve run the gamut from healthcare assistant on an acute ward, assistant psychologist, research assistant, evaluation manager and now experience data manager. I just fell into my current role, I’d never written a line of code in my life but as we worked on increasingly larger and larger numbers of surveys I became aware that there were programming languages and technologies that we could use to make the process quicker and easier. My motto is let computers do repetitive work crunching numbers and writing reports and free up humans to do what they do best- read, think, and communicate.
So I’ve taught myself three programming languages (level: Expert, Amateur, and Beginner), one database technology (to store all the data) and two markup languages (to make the reports look nice) and now spend my days cleaning the data, improving the database and the reports and generally overseeing the whole process of getting as much feedback about our services as I can and presenting it back to people in the most accessible and useful format I can come up with. We share all of our experience data transparently with the world on the Your Feedback Matters website.
Apart from letting computers take the burden of report writing and number crunching my other big passion is free and open source software. This describes software which is provided free, with users able to use the software without any charge or modify it for their own use.
For more, please follow the above link, it contains a lot of references to noteworthy projects in open source, particularly in the public sector. In brief, I would argue that open source technologies, which are often free, are criminally under used in the public sector, although they have started to gain traction, for example in a major upgrade to the NHS’s central data systems (these were largely open source, but not free, see more here). As a matter of principle I use no proprietary (i.e. closed source) software in my work but, to be honest, this is no hardship, in my field all the good products are open source anyway, or have solid open source alternatives.
When I’m not thinking about computers, teaching myself programming languages, or fiddling around with Linux (which, to be honest, is not very often) I’m a very proud (and busy) father of two young children and enjoy literature, hip-hop, martial arts (aikido), running, and video games.
We’ve started this blog to talk about what’s going on in our team, who we are and what we do, and will be featuring regular guest pieces from service user, carer, and professional experts in involvement, experience, and volunteering.
Please contact me if you have any comments about my work on the feedback site, have suggestions for the blog or if you are interested in contributing a guest piece to the blog.