The Florence Nightingale Leadership Scholarship from January 2016 to April 2017 has given me the unique opportunity to develop my own bespoke programme that resonated with my developmental needs and interests. The exclusive programme has enabled me to have the best year in my career with regard to personal growth and development.

The courses that I have attended as part of the scholarship has broadened my horizons and continued my development as a senior nurse and midwife in the NHS as well as gaining knowledge and expertise from outside the public sector in private industry.

The scholarship, which has several components, is made up of courses, mentoring, coaching and experiential learning. It is based on an individual leadership diagnostics. Self directed learning is integral to the course and this in itself brings about maturity when making those decisions about areas for exploration. The choosing of a mentor and coach based on personalities and expertise should not be underplayed and I was very fortunate to have a wonderful coach and mentor who I am sure will continue to guide, nurture me for many years to come on my professional and personal development, leadership styles and behaviours.

I attended a variety of courses including Leading Change and Organisational Renewal Course (LCOR) For me the course was different to previous courses I had attended as the outcomes were very much about individual learning and giving me the tools, such as the congruence model, to put into my toolkit to enable me to really tackle problems and find the solutions by taking time to explore the true root causes.

RADA, Communication Skills Course was invigorating and uplifting and taught me many skills around effective non verbal communication and using transactional analysis to improve conversational outcomes.

At Cranfield University I attended a course on Increasing Personal Power where I learnt about the Centaur Model, which uses personality types and traits. Once you understand somebodies archetype then you will be able to understand the thinking patterns and how they work, which in turn can increase your personal power. The final part of the course considered ethical politics and the ‘games’ that people will play. Striving to be the ‘owl’ I can demonstrate an improving ability and willingness to appreciate situations and use this to progress.

My overseas trip was to the Disney Institute in California and I attended a course called Disney’s Approach to Quality Service. Disney believe that excellent service does not simply come from a friendly transaction or helpful technology—it is the result of truly understanding the customer’s expectations and putting the right guidelines and standards in place to exceed them. They identify that when an organisational framework properly unites its people, place and processes by putting the customer at its core, exceptional service becomes possible across customer ‘touch points’. They have found that this methodology encourages a greater intent for the customers to return and recommend, as well as a stronger competitive edge.

Disney believes that when team members’ behaviors are reinforced through positive feedback, they feel valued and appreciated and will make sure their customers do as well. They value staff to the same extent as their customers. Indeed they refer to their own staff as ‘internal customers’ and the paying public ‘external customers’.

From the moment I started the course to the time I finished I was so impressed with every aspect and became a firm believer in what they were saying. Yes there was the Disney  ‘hype’ but seeing beyond that made me realize that so many of their principles were transferrable directly to healthcare and could be applied virtually without any adaptation. There were many examples that I have been able to bring back to my own organisation and implement to improve patient experience.

My coach and mentor Irene Gray has been invaluable in listening, providing guidance and direction as part of my mentoring sessions. In my coaching sessions she has made me question myself and find my answers and solutions to many situations we have discussed.

The individual patient care improvement project is one of the main aims of the scholarship and mine entitled ‘Elevating The Patient Voice: The Patient Partnership Council’ proved difficult to identify given the huge patient experience agenda, however with careful guidance from my mentor I was able to narrow down the project to ensure that this report would be able to demonstrate added value to myself, patients and my organisation. The project entitled, Elevating the Patients Voice: The Patient Partnership Council (PPC) details the introduction of a unique forum, which brought together recruited staff and eight appointed lay members each representing one of the Trust’s core services, to ensure that patients and the public work in partnership to improve patient experience, the quality of care at my Trust and ultimately improve clinical outcomes. 

The objective of the PCC was to introduce a new patients’ forum to provide the Trust with independent, strategic and objective recommendations to enhance patient experience through co-production and co-design. Implementing the PPC has started to bring about a cultural shift at my organisation from ‘do to ‘working with’ patients.

This fantastic opportunity has had many positive benefits, which include increasing my self-confidence and ability to influence and ultimately improve my leadership capabilities. I am now a much calmer more reflective person and have the ability to understand others and the impact that I have on them. I am committed to continuing on my journey of personal and professional development and use my passion and energy to continue to improve patient and staff experience in the challenged world we live.

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