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New leadership programme in Scotland is investment in high quality healthcare

Author: Angela McManus
30 October 2017

A new pilot project in Scotland is enabling band six palliative care clinical nurse specialists to share and learn from each other. Angela McManus, Communications Manager at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, writes about the facilitation of the Inspiring Leadership programme.

A group of eight band six clinical nurse specialists are the first to take part in a new Inspiring Leadership programme, jointly delivered by The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow, Accord Hospice in Paisley, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and NHS Education for Scotland.

Masterclasses and workshops are combined with action learning and a quality improvement project, and participants have the opportunity to have their work accredited by Glasgow Caledonian University at Masters level.

The participants have undertaken Myers Briggs analysis and attended masterclasses on understanding Myers Briggs and working with differences, as well as understanding quality improvement methodology. They have also received 360-degree review feedback based on the NHS Leadership Qualities Framework, helping them to form their personal development plan.

The 360-degree feedback enables those taking part to gather feedback from people they work with on a regular basis. It is important as it allows them to find out how well they are performing against the NHS Scotland Leadership Qualities Framework and highlights specific areas of leadership and management capability where they can improve. It offers a valuable insight into how they are perceived by people they work with.

The programme will culminate with a final celebratory event in February 2018, giving the participants the opportunity to showcase their quality improvement project work.

Jane Miller, education facilitator at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, explained:

 “The 12-month programme was set up after recognising a potential gap in leadership skills. Band six clinical nurse specialists in palliative care are working in a time of organisational change with increasing complexity around their specialist role. Some staff have reported feeling vulnerable and anxious as they struggle to deliver high levels of care to patients and families.”

“It now offers a safe space for clinical nurse specialists taking part to share and learn from each other, while embedding the values, behaviours and attitudes of leadership skills.”

“This provides a foundation to support greater successional planning in palliative care and increase the skills and confidence of those taking part, as well as their understanding of quality improvement methodology supporting individual quality improvement action plans.”

A key goal is to provide training in leadership for this cohort of palliative care nurses, alongside robust evaluation of the programme with the view to this becoming a nationally recognised palliative care leadership programme.

Jane added:

“Newly appointed staff in particular have been reporting an increase in stress levels within their teams, and with the number of band six palliative care clinical nurse specialists in acute settings increasing, it is essential to support and develop them.”

“A move towards mentorship and succession planning paved the way for this new programme. It now provides an opportunity to continue building leadership capacity across NHSGGC palliative care teams and ensure we have leaders who are prepared for senior strategic roles in the future.”

“The programme calls for a high level of investment from those taking part, as well as the organisations involved. An investment in leadership is an investment in high quality healthcare – essential to delivering the future in NHS Scotland.”

A scoping exercise, carried out in 2016 with a focus group of clinical nurse specialists, asked them to identify challenging areas of the leadership and management aspects of their role. The themes revealed ranged from people and time management skills to positive language around change, embracing new challenges, the role of shadowing and mentoring, and learning to cope with the pressures of being an autonomous practitioner, along with the importance of self-awareness in their level of responsibility and boundaries.

The development of this programme offers the opportunity to continue building leadership capacity across NHSGGC palliative care teams and create a cadre of leaders who are prepared for senior strategic roles in the future. It involves a high level of investment from the participants who are expected to commit to all elements of the programme, as well as high-level contribution from NHS boards and the hospices.

The programme has been developed with the strong belief that a stake in leadership is a solid contribution in high-quality healthcare – that is essential to delivering the future in NHS Scotland.

By the end of the exercise, clinical nurse specialists taking part will have had a chance to build their self awareness, personal effectiveness and resilience. They will also be able to show leadership behaviour that is consistent with creating an enabling culture to transform services for patients and families.

Providing effective leadership and management in teams and across professional and organisational boundaries will focus on service excellence. And creating the conditions for staff to play to their strengths, think creatively and work collaboratively will overcome obstacles in the change process.

A key goal of the programme is to evaluate if it is replicable for future cohorts of palliative care nurses and to assess if it has the potential to be available to relevant staff out with the NHSGGC area. In the meantime, the Palliative Care Leadership Steering Group will continue to deliver this programme and feedback to the relevant organisations involved when the programme has been fully evaluated.

The project was accepted for a poster presentation at the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care conference in September 2017, and will be presented at an event run by Burdett Trust for Nursing later in the year.

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