Opportunities and Shadowing at Frimley Health

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Eleanor Di Biase is a first-year student working on the Frimley student councils programme, in this blog, Eleanor talks about her experience to date.

“As a first-year student working on the Frimley student councils programme run by Florence Nightingale Foundation; I have been offered many interesting and career enhancing opportunities. I have been enrolled on the leadership development programme which included a RADA workshopping day, focussing on communication skills for leadership.

I utilised these skills by speaking publicly at the Regional Student Council meetings which received positive feedback from many different stakeholders. I’ve also been given a platform with Florence Nightingale Foundation to write blogs which highlight issues and events that impassion me. Off the back of my writing, I have been invited to a lived-experience policy influence group by the Deputy Chief Exec of Florence Nightingale Foundation, Gemma Stacey. These are only some examples of how Florence Nightingale Foundation’s student councils programme has supported and accelerated my learning and leadership abilities. 

However, one of the most stretching and interesting opportunities came from networking with stakeholders; I was given the opportunity to shadow one of Frimley Health’s Deputy Chief Nurses, Henry.

The day began by meeting at Frimley Park hospital where I was given a brief overview of the agenda for the day.

First up, I am invited to a Care Governance meeting led by the Chief Nurse of Frimley Health, Lorna. After the initial greetings and introductions, I am presented with evidence-based proposals that address key challenges within the trust as well as briefed on initiatives that have successfully been piloted. 

One impressive initiative that has successfully been piloted by Frimley Health is the introduction of MAMAs Line. A 24-hour advice line for pregnant women and parents of new-borns. In the care governance meeting, senior leaders acknowledge the successes of this service whilst also asking probing questions for improvements in the future. It strikes me that MAMAs line has already alleviated pressures on other system-wide services such as ambulance crews. Whilst also helping service users learn and feel empowered during what can be a difficult period of change as they prepare to welcome infants into the world.

After the meeting I am given the opportunity to ask questions to Lorna and Henry who inform me of Frimley Health’s operational structure. They answer candidly about how they work as a senior leadership team to tackle challenges given the wider context of an increasingly stretched, post-covid NHS.

I am also given an insight into their busy diaries and learn what a senior leadership role looks like in terms of day-to-day. This simple insight is completely new to me. Amongst the steady stream of e-mails pinging into their inboxes and the high level of accountability on their shoulders; they both manage to maintain their approachability and passion for excellent patient experience.

After a short lunch break, I am invited to attend a Non-executive GEMBA round by Deputy Chief Nurse, Alison. The GEMBA round is a quality improvement tool used by Frimley Excellence. Frimley Excellence is the quality improvement function of Frimley Health. Quality improvement is about incremental, sustained improvements that result in excellent patient experience. The GEMBA round allows staff, patients and governors time, resources and skills to systematically inquire about the operation of a ward, service or healthcare environment. It allows individuals to walk around the ward asking questions to patients and staff about the ward effectiveness, experience and care. GEMBA can be translated from Japanese to mean, “the place where value is created”.

As a small group, we walked around two wards. We spoke with patients and staff about their experiences and asked their suggestions for improvements whilst also observing the clinical environment. As a group we then went back to discuss what improvements could be made in these ward areas. It was interesting to hear of the challenges wards face with increasing demand on their services. As an apprentice mental health nurse, it was also particularly interesting to hear from the Head of Nursing, Phillipa about the increased demand on wards for mental health skills alongside nurse’s physical health expertise. This demand for a hybrid nursing role is something I am a keen advocate for!

After what was an incredibly busy day, I left Frimley Park hospital feeling invigorated and valued. It was a day full of learnings and personal development. I had been challenged to think about solutions for service wide improvements; something that doesn’t tend to happen to first year nursing students. A great day; well spent!”

Please watch the video below to find out more about how to join the Frimley Student Council. And you can find out more about the Student Councils Programme here.