In the shoes of … Sam Majumdar. A very person-centred surgeon.

Sam Majumdar is a very special man. A champion of true diversity. Person-centred, living his values, encouraging and caring – oh, and a world-class surgeon as well!

Sam and I made a very special connection a few years ago when he first joined Twitter. I encouraged him with social media and he saw me as a bit of a mentor. We became friends, in real life as well as virtually. And of course mentoring works best when it is not one-way traffic and Sam mentored me on all sorts of things that really matter in life. Since my experience of cancer over 10 years ago, I have learnt to ‘not stress the small stuff’ and go with the flow. Sam has encouraged this in spades, helping me make my work truly organic and go where the real energy is. Sam believed in the work I am doing through Whose Shoes and has encouraged me at every twist and turn – and believe me, there have been many!

Sam is a leader. Clinical leadership is very underestimated in health care, but Sam seems to be on a much deserved wave, as people listen to his commonsense ideas about how things need to change to re-inject compassion into every healthcare transaction.

I was delighted for Sam when he was invited to be part of a panel at a recent GMC conference.:

And then more recently, Sam had this excellent blog on patient safety and quality improvement published by the ‘Good doctors’ site, hosted by the GMC.

Today, it is a huge pleasure to publish Sam’s  blog exploring (Sam’s words) the “highly misunderstood topic of leadership” and (my words) a glimpse of what it is like to be a person-centred clinician in 2016 .

From my Whose Shoes? workshops, I know there are many more brilliant person-centred healthcare professionals out there. Many of them are ‘under the radar’, not daring to speak out and be heard. It is selfless, forward-thinking leaders like Sam who will encourage others to do so…

Sam Majumdar

Bon Voyage

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Lao Tzu

Here are the 10 steps to get you to your destination

1. Understand your core human needs (Start with Why)

You must know your fundamental needs. If you do not know why you are doing something your effort may be wasted and may not have an enjoyable experience. Look for Return of Joy (ROJ) in everything you do in life. When your actions are truly aligned to your core needs joy will be there in every moment

2. Define your Purpose with maximum Clarity

Vision is the distant dream attached to your heart with Creative Tension. Remember the stronger the tensions nearer you are to the dream. When you know where you are heading going becomes easy as your heart opens up with an abundance of creative options and the universe conspires to take you to the destination. All human beings are extremely creative and resourceful.

3. Make passion your driver (trust your gut feelings)

Passion is the spontaneous energy that flows out our heart effortlessly when the heart is not repressed. If you submit yourself wholeheartedly to your passion in life the path to your goal open up. When the conditions are right your dream will manifest but this will happen you are able to believe in yourself. Have Faith in yourself and let your passion be the guide in this journey.

4. Connect with feelings & always lead from your heart

We remember what we are made to feel. Simple! A new born baby sees the world with her heart (perception) and the 5 senses. Only about 8% of the meanings in any conversation come from spoken words while significant part of the experience comes from the nonverbal communication perceived subconsciously. Every interaction and connection you make in life aim to leave the person on the receiving end happy in heart. Lead from your heart. Connect with compassion and empathy. Create Win : Win everywhere and every time in life.

5. Stay focused on the big picture

Attention energises and makes things grow. Look at the fruits and flowers in a beautiful garden they did not come without a lot of careful attention. Absence of attention causes Entropy. It is a fact that all children on this planet need attention (love) to Grow. We know very well the painful consequences of neglect, lack of love and repression when everything withers away. That is entropy.
Embrace your dream as if it is your little baby. Open up your heart and connect with your dream with loving Energy which is the metaphorical umbilical cord. Nurture it with maximum focus like an expectant mum. Your dreams will manifest. This is the power of Focus!

6. Make failure your teacher

Remember how many times you have fallen as a baby while learning to walk! And you can walk now without even thinking. It takes roughly 20 hours to understand something but 10,000 hours to perfect it. All failures in life come with, blatant and embedded powerful feedback. Pay heeds! Outcome of every action in your life will teach you how to get it right. Be a lifelong learner from your own observation of life. Failures can be very painful but worth every penny when you learn from it through deep reflection (Introspection).

7. Cultivate gratitude in your heart

Gratitude is an extremely powerful energy that will pull you forward and upward in life. Practice gratefulness actively in everyday life. You can easily recall at least 3 people in your life without whose selfless help you would not be where you are today. Send them graces from the depth of your heart every day. Results will be overwhelmingly pleasant for you.

8. Make good practice your everyday habit

Every action produces an outcome; pleasant, unpleasant or ambiguous. Good practice produces good outcomes. Make them your habit; if possible your rituals. Excellence in life is not an accident but the results of many thousand hours of good practice. Make good practice your habit and don’t wait for an inspiration to change your life.

9. Redefine Fear

Do not be hijacked by your fear or live as its prisoner. Look deep at its face for reasons. Irrational fears will disappear with logical attempts to define it, because they come from the lower part of brain; just like darkness when you switch of the light. Redefine fear within the context of your dream i.e. the big picture in your focus.
10. Live in the Present Moment

We are only alive in the context of the present moment. Past is History; memory that is helping us experience life in the present moment. Future is mystery and remains elusive. One is often focused in the past when depressed or focused in the future in the time of anxiety. Sadly in both of these situations significant proportion of our creative energy is wasted as the present moment fast becomes past. Focusing into the present moment with the mindfulness creates what is in your heart and connects you with the person sitting in front you who would love your attention or the beautiful field of lavender you are gazing at. Get stuck in the present moment for the magic to unfold.

Posted in Blogs, Guest blog, leadership, personalisation, well-being | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In my own shoes – Gill’s random thoughts on turning 60. #Gill60

File 18-05-2016, 05 37 14I had all sorts of ideas about how I might mark my 60th birthday in terms of social media. I loved #60yearsoflearning by @ShirleyAyres; I loved @AnnieCoops’ photos over the years to mark her 50th;
I loved the wonderful film that Sheena Byrom’s (@SageFemmeSB) family made to mark her 60th.

But life has been just too busy. So I thought I’d simply write a blog to capture a few of my thoughts. I might do a Steller story too.

I feel incredibly lucky. I can remember my mum having to retire at 60. Happy birthday and off your pop … regardless of whether you are enjoying your work or have so much more to contribute! Mum is now 94.  34 years ‘retired’. I am glad things have become much less rigid. One of my children asked me recently when I am going to retire … and I laughed.

I had a bit of a party on Saturday. It was really lovely but all rather random. Some wonderful friends came. I tended to invite people as I saw them or was in contact with them – I wish I could have invited everyone!

People were asking ages ahead whether I was ‘all ready’. Hmm, hardly. We had a new toilet fitted on Thursday (the plumber was just back from holiday) and my son-in-law-to-be was out there with his circular saw (and dogs!) on Thursday evening cutting a new worktop, delivered that day. Luckily it stayed dry. We had just had a palette of Whose Shoes boxes and boards delivered and waiting for attention in the middle of our living room and a large shipment of mini shoes from China (hooray!). People do not see what ‘sits behind’ a small business but, as they say, it all came right on the night.

File 18-05-2016, 05 37 26A big hit at the party was a cardboard frame that my friend Sarah, who made the mistake of arriving ten minutes early, knocked up with her children for people to take photos!

The previous time I had a bash was when I turned 50.

My dear friend Lindsay played a big role in arranging my 50th and this time I was tempted not to bother as Lindsay is no longer here. Inevitably lots of people have died over the last decade, but my dad and Lindsay are the ones I really miss. And ‘Betty Boogie’, my mum in law!

My dad was a real character and very down to earth. When I got married, his ‘wedding speech’ was very short. He had had it prepared and told me it regularly from the age of eight: “It is not so much a case of losing a daughter as gaining a bathroom”.

Dad was an avid Daily Telegraph reader. From the age of about 75, he checked the obituary column in bed every morning. If he wasn’t in it, he got up.

10 years ago. I had had cancer. I had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and was on long-term drug treatment. I am not sure I expected to make it to 60 and, as so many people say, it really made me see what was important in life and not to waste time on stuff that really doesn’t matter.

Gill swing seat 50My friends had clubbed together to buy me a swing seat for the garden and I still love it. Like the sea, it is one place where I can totally relax.

10 years ago, I was still ’employed’ and Whose Shoes? wasn’t conceived. I have written elsewhere about why I jumped ship, my favourite version being on Sarah Reed’s blog. Since then, I have learned a lot (particularly from the School for Health Care Radicals #SHCR) about what happened and why. Helen Bevan named me the ‘No 1 Radical’ – not sure that is true, there are so many people making fantastic changes, but a huge compliment.

Gill & Helen - SHCR1I am thrilled that I had the courage to refuse to be undermined or for my creativity to be held back: I jumped ship in 2008, escaped a culture of big egos and pointless meetings, and set up something with the potential to really make a difference. Something exciting to stop me clucking over the children as they moved on…😉

Setting up a small business is really tricky: you have to ‘know everything’ and I felt I knew nothing. I just had a passion to find a way to listen and value the ‘wisdom in the room’ and develop a system of true co-production, which is at the heart of Whose Shoes?

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As you may imagine, it has been a mega rollercoaster – riding the depths of the recession and being invited to speak in all sorts of interesting places including Malta, Paris, Australia and Puerto Rico!

10 years ago, I wasn’t on Twitter. All of my friends were real life friends – now so many of them are social media friends who turn into real life friends. I loved this cartoon that Katie @BirthCompanion drew of me recently at a #MatExp event where they were laughing at me running a mini Twitter masterclass, helping Baroness Cumberlege to tweet!

My party was an amazing mix of a ‘bit of a tweet up’ alongside fabulous family and friends who have stuck with me despite Whose Shoes? , social media … and all the things that seem to take me away from them! My friends Yvonne and Rosemary, who have been there with Lindsay as the children grew up, Trinny-ed and Susannah-ed me and knocked things into shape before (and indeed during!) the party, along with my lovely daughter Jenny. Flo @fwmaternitykhft and her husband got busy with the helium and arranged balloons. We need these people in our lives who just see what needs to be done, understand us and er … JFDI.

I am delighted to be a Granny. One little boy, now aged seven months. Gorgeous! It was a special moment having birthday piccies in the garden as the party began. I hope one or two more grandchildren might come along before I am 70. Who knows? The evening morphed from a String Quartet to heavy rock – I have very eclectic tastes!

File 18-05-2016, 07 18 00

Me and ‘my boy’ – ‘The Cricketer’ painted by my amazing friend Lindsay.

10 years ago all of my three children lived at home – and now they have all flown the nest and have their own lives and homes. It wasn’t a linear process. There was a lot of coming and going. They all live very locally, which is lovely. ‘The cricketer’ (now a maths teacher) very nearly settled in Australia, which I guess could have been lovely in a different way. Life is very arbitrary.

Jenny gets married next month and we have just enjoyed a fantastic hen weekend. I got big brownie points for dancing until 2am. Apparently that is not what you expected to do at 60. I am not a big fan of doing things I’m expected to do. Wonder if I will still be doing that in 10 years’ time – I hope so.

HSJ - Alison & Gill IMG_0115My mum has become a little bit of a celebrity on Twitter, tweeting and blogging as @Gills_Mum. At my party, she knew quite a few of my Twitter friends in real life, which is brilliant. we toasted friends and absent friends. At the end of the party Theresa, my ‘oldest’ friend, since the age of 11, took her back home and sat and chatted with her having tea until 1.30am! They apparently had a lot to catch up on. I hope I will make it to 94 and will be like that.

File 18-05-2016, 05 38 22I am doing some random things to celebrate my birthday. I spent a lovely day on Monday with Lisa Rodrigues. We have only previously had snatched conversations, but yet she travelled up from Brighton to Rugby and we spent the whole day together and could still be talking now! So many ideas to share and explore!

Flo made me a wonderful photo book: the #MatExp story. Wow! We have talked about writing a book, but she just did a JFDI version, and that’s really all it takes.

A couple of months ago, ‘Mr #WhoseShoes’ was unexpectedly made redundant. It coincided with the time when Whose Shoes? is ‘taking off’ and in danger of no longer being fun, as I struggle to keep all the plates spinning. We are going to do it together, bringing a new work-life balance for both of us hopefully. It means we can travel together and combine work and play in new ways.


At the end of the week we are travelling up to Cumbria. Hoping to do a lot of walking, although the weather looks a bit grim. A workshop with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, a couple of meetings at the University of Central Lancashire, and possible visit to Morecambe Bay … and a wonderful catch up with my great friend Jenny @JennytheM. Work and play, all intertwined.


I have a wonderful friend Sam Majumdar @SamMajumdar – along with Flo, one of the most person centred surgeons that you could meet. Over time we have become mutual mentors. I build networks and see where the energy goes. I find people who make a difference. I follow my heart and don’t ‘sweat the small stuff’. Sam has been hugely influential in this – thank you! As I say, it is mutual and I have the huge pleasure of publishing his first blog shortly – watch this space!

People who don’t ‘get it’ think I work too hard. But for me work and play are pretty much inseparable as, with Whose Shoes, I am following my dreams and meeting inspirational people, many of whom I believe (hope!) will remain lifetime friends.

Presents have poured in from friends old and new. I feel blessed and very loved. My house is filled with flowers and indeed booze. I have a fabulous new ‘juice bar’ to play Spotify music wherever I go. I certainly had no concept of that 10 years ago.

So now,  for my sins, I am a sexagenarian. It is an interesting word and seems to offer a lot of potential.😉

I wonder what the next 10 years will bring. I can’t wait to dive in!!

Posted in Blogs, co-production, community engagement, dementia, Gill's Mum, in my shoes, personalisation, social media, well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In the shoes of Victoria Morgan… | Reflecting on #MatExp and the impact it is having

MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality report There is a lot of excitement in the #MatExp camp at the moment. So what’s new there?😉

There was a wonderful workshop last week at Princess Royal Hospital. The room was packed and the #MatExp Twitter feed was on fire.  Laura James, Chair of the Bromley MSLC wrote about it here.

Also there is anticipation. It will be the first time we have taken part in a global online NHS Transformathon – not least because it IS the first of its kind. Rather niftily, my last blog ‘explaining’ #MatExp was picked up by the Edge and included in their transformation special edition, so have a browse through that – you will find lots of inspiring stories and practical ideas.

We are standing by our beds, so to speak, waiting for further instructions about the Transformathon and hoping that we can get ourselves sorted with the right technology as no-one wants a repeat of Flo and I ad-libbing wildly and singing, as we ended up doing at NHS Expo! Please join lots of sessions but particularly the opening session 4.00-5-30pm 27th January, hosted by Helen Bevan and Alison Cameron – we don’t know the detail but we know it will include a lot of fab stuff. Including NHS Fab Stuff.

So it feels very timely that people are reflecting and sharing their thoughts.

In August 2015, I wrote about the #MatExp journey so far ‘What a year! My ‘take’ on #MatExp: building a change platform – by accident!’ and asked everyone why they were getting involved with #MatExp and what difference it had made.

Victoria Morgan, founder of Every Birth a Safe Birth, got in touch to say that she’d learnt quite a lot from the blog, so I challenged her to write about it!

What I’ve learnt from #MatExp

IMG_3691Yes, I am the sort of person with a target on my head! As I’m rushing to a meeting it is usually me people stop in the street to ask for directions…or, in this case, write a blog! There were so many elements of Gill’s and the #MatExp journey that echoed my own that I thought I had to take up her challenge to put it down in writing.

So, here are the 11 things that #MatExp has taught me.

1. Do the crazy thing you really want to do
When Gill created Whose Shoes in 2008 – she gave up her job, jumped ship with a crazy notion, loads of passion, no funding or realistic plan.

At the beginning of 2015, I found myself going to job interviews for jobs that didn’t really fire me up. As I asked ‘what do I want to do?’ I remembered my work in the NHS when I’d developed a passion for improving maternity services.

One effective technique I’d developed was facilitating multi-disciplinary panels to review serious incidents and agree action to improve the quality of services. It was one of the reasons that led to my appointment as Head of Quality & Safety across four London boroughs.

My boss, Prathiba, a public health consultant opened my eyes to the importance of public health analytical techniques in improving clinical quality. From serious incident data I calculated mortality rates for a local hospital trust – this was real time data and it communicated powerfully.

At that time, I discovered the work of a cardiac clinical network which had reduced mortality rates by 24% for one type of surgery and wondered if a similar approach could be adopted by maternity services.

2. Collect stories
My passion for improving maternity services also came from the stories of friends who had been left with significant morbidities after giving birth but this wasn’t getting onto the commissioning agenda – we were too stretched.

Recognising the pressures on staff which means it is difficult it is to make time for improvement work and my strengths of organising, analysis and facilitation, I thought why not set up a business to support maternity services improve quality? So in June 2015, I set up Every Birth a Safe Birth to organise and facilitate maternity clinical networks.

3. Turn problems into opportunities

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Gill turned the problem of getting refreshments out of the NHS into an opportunity – starting the #MatExp bake-off where participants bake and share cakes, a lovely personal touch that is now a key part of the package.

I faced two major problems in setting up a maternity quality improvement business: I’m neither a clinician nor a parent – so without that experience how could I possibly facilitate maternity clinical networks?

However these problems have become strengths; it’s meant I’ve had to:
• consult widely – I’ve found a range of wonderful clinicians and parents who have helped refine my ideas; and
• genuinely facilitate – improvement ideas have to come from the participants.

4. Use social media
A year ago I didn’t have a clue what Twitter was about; now, I regularly Tweet what I hope is mainly useful stuff from @VictoriaRM6. Twitter is a great way to:
• connect with like minded people;
• keep up to date with developments; and
• discover events and training opportunities such as the MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality report and the London Maternity Strategic Clinical Network (SCN).

5. Take one small step and see where it takes you
Flo - small pilot#MatExp began as ‘one small pilot’ and is now a national grassroots movement. Whilst Every Birth a Safe Birth is very much at the embryonic stage, I’ve found that as I step out things can snowball beyond what I originally envisaged.

Take that day in June, when I attended the MBRRACE-UK perinatal report launch and the London Maternity SCN. I felt prompted to write a blog reflecting on the events and how grassroots clinical networks could help.

It felt risky asking Sheena Byrom if she’d like my blog for her
‘what the national maternity review team should know’ series (kicked off in style by Gill and Florence). To my surprise, she not only posted my blog but also asked if her daughter Anna Byrom (@ACBmidwife), editor of The Practising Midwife, could get in touch, as she might like to publish it. Anna and Laura Yeates were understanding editors showing this rookie feature writer the ropes with much patience.

I’ve since written a review of the year for the journal: 2015 proved to be a big year for maternity with Kirkup, the national maternity review, the MBRRACE-UK reports and, of course, #MatExp.

5. Keep networking!
Networking can feel like a dirty word; really it’s about being friendly and watching out for opportunities where you can help others or ask for help.

Having drawn on the work of the London Maternity Strategic Clinical Network for blog and journal article, when I heard the Network needed people to join their Outcomes Group it seemed an opportunity to get to know people involved in the work and help out.

Of course my membership of the group has turned out to be more helpful to me than I have to it! Guess who was there as I turned up at NHS London HQ for my first meeting with some degree of trepidation…#FabObs Flo, who gave me a warm welcome!

6. Iron sharpens iron
15 10 16 RCOG Womens Patient Safety DayWhen Flo heard that I was presenting a poster at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists Womens’ Health Patient Safety Day, she decided that #MatExp needed to get in on the act and got a stand – the #MatExp Bazaar – at the event. The way Flo looks at what others are up, then thinks of a better way of expressing it in her context and just does it is impressive.

Flo and Leigh - RCOG safety dayHaving a friendly face at the conference was very welcome and it also gave me the opportunity to meet the lovely Leigh Kendall for real after getting to know her and Hugo’s story through her amazing blogs (if there are any publishers out there, this is a book crying out to be published).

7. Do stuff outside your comfort zone
Talking to Flo beforehand, she confirmed my guess that these events aren’t usually too interactive and that she hoped to shake things up a bit with the #MatExp Bazaar.

Spurred on by the interactive nature of the #MatExp stand, I drew up some comment forms and asked those taking an interest in my poster “would you like to give me your thoughts on what you’ve read?” Not quite Flo and Leigh’s ebullient style; nevertheless delegates kindly gave me their insights.

8. Get supporters and support others
Gill invests time in supporting people on social media – building links across her networks has proved very rewarding.

Clare (@Clare_desilva), who I’ve known for some time, agreed to be the parent involvement advisor on the Every Birth a Safe Birth advisory board; she stresses the importance of fathers/birth partners – they have an overview of what is going on. Her husband is a management consultant by day, so he had some great insights into how well the midwifery and obstetrics teams worked together (or didn’t).

9. Whose Shoes? rocks!
Having followed the Whose Shoes? workshops remotely on social media, I was keen to try the board game for myself. When the National Maternity Review used it at their road shows, I was there! Somehow the informality (fun) and ‘no right answers’ approach of the board game allows the creative bit of our brains to engage, sparking deeper conversations.

10. Serendipity
Meeting key people at just the right time to help think through her ideas has been a key part of Gill’s journey and also mine. Lucy November (@lucynov) and Ceri Durham (@Homebirth_TH) have provided useful feedback on the clinical quality outcome measures for the Every Birth a Safe Birth clinical networks.

11. Use others’ expertise
Without a clinical or public health background, the 12 (and counting) clinical quality outcomes measures for the Every Birth a Safe Birth clinical networks have had to be drawn from the work of nationally/internationally recognised bodies.

The excellent, free to access, work of MBRRACE-UK and the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’s Green-top Guidelines, have not only ensured that the data definitions are correct but also provided national and international benchmarks for the outcome charts.

FINAL Logo MediumIf you’d like to get in touch with Victoria or find out more, you can do this via her website or or follow her on Twitter @VictoriaRM6.

Posted in Blogs, Guest blog, health, maternity, personalisation, safeguarding, well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When WhoseShoes came to the PRUH

WS - 2 cupcakesRe-blogging (from our #MatExp site – take a look!) a fantastic round-up of the #MatExp WhoseShoes? event at Princess Royal Hospital yesterday published in record time by Bromsgrove MSLC.

So glad you all found it so useful and enjoyable – I know that the lively conversations and pledges will lead to some really exciting actions for positive change. 
Thank you so much – and good luck!__________________________________________________________

Whose Shoes® came to Kings College Hospital this week and wow did we step up to the challenge! Having observed the Guys and St. Thomas’s event in the summer of 2015, I knew we were in for a treat. …

Source: When WhoseShoes came to the PRUH

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#MatExp – proving that you don’t have to ‘ask for permission’ to make change

We are really chuffed to be invited to take part in the opening session of the NHS transformathon – a 24 hour global engage-a-thon on 27/28 January led by Helen Bevan and Alison Cameron. You can read about it here and we would love you to take part, not only in our session but any of the 24 one hour sessions that you are able to dip into. Time zone permitting and all that.

So, who has received this invitation? The #MatExp gang.

Who?? Anyone interested in improving maternity services across the world.

fullsizerender-1MatExp - no hierarchies collage

Take a look at #MatExp on Twitter, with almost 300,000,000 Twitter impressions and you will see what I mean and perhaps why we have been invited. Not sure exactly how it is going to work yet, but I think #MatExp is going to be used as a case study into what is possible if enough passionate people come together and ‘JFDI’. No hierarchy, just people.

Over the last 15 months, a fantastic community has evolved and social media has played a huge part, connecting like-minded people and helping them (us!) prove the old adage that “we are stronger together”.

I have basically noticed two distinct groups of people – those who were already very active, for whom #MatExp has provided an extra platform, and those who perhaps didn’t have a channel or didn’t feel capable or ‘worthy’ but who have discovered the fantastic contribution they can make. It has been amazing to watch individuals grow in confidence and become leading change agents and in some cases highly acclaimed speakers.

Storytelling is a big part of #Matexp and a lot has been written, including by my chief ‘partner in crime’ Florence Wilcock, a.k.a #FabObs Flo who vowed only to write this one blog – and has now written many! That is what happens when people get caught up in something that grabs their imagination, aligns with their values and they feel they can really make a difference!

I asked Flo to describe on one piece of paper the journey so far. This was her brilliant impromptu response.

Inevitably Flo’s ‘Flo chart’ does not include everything; it does not intend to – and that is the whole point. If things are missing that are important to you then you too can reflect, blog, post your own diagram or whatever you are yearning to share. No doubt it will have a different perspective, reach a slightly different audience and it will be equally valid and celebrate the diversity that makes up a change platform – even one we are building by accident. That way we evolve and grow.

Flo is a wonderful, person-centred obstetrician who, as part of the NHS London Strategic Clinical Network, was looking for an imaginative way to improve maternity care across London. She had only recently joined Twitter but had spotted the work that I was doing with my Whose Shoes approach, particularly around supporting people to live well with dementia, and thought it would help in her service too.
So what do these two areas have in common? The fact that we are all vulnerable human beings who want to be treated with dignity, respect and enabled to have self determination.

I took up my own challenge to try and map the story of Whose Shoes? on a single piece of paper.

I ran out of room. Again, it is not about being comprehensive but diving in and having a bit of fun to see what emerged. Fun is a very important part of building a change platform! :)

So perhaps we are starting to see a web of change platforms, an exciting blend of people who all want positive change, but who inevitably each have a slightly different focus. Take a look for example at the work that we did linking with NHS Change Day, in which we came up with eight different actions with different people leading them. Compared with a traditional organisation, where people might be allocated different roles, this was completely different. This was not NHS-led or led by any kind of formal organisation; just people putting themselves forward because of their individual area of passion and expertise and leading on key actions. You can dive into any of these and find out more.

Increasingly, visual storytelling has been important. After all, why would you go to the trouble of writing a blog like this which might attract 1000 views when some of our Steller stories have attracted 30,000 views in a couple of days? It is all about having a bit of fun, testing things out and trying to keep them fresh. Our recent #MatExpAdvent series is a good example of this as is the round up of 2015 that I attempted, also through Steller stories.

We have a crowd-sourced Pinterest board, another way of curating and sharing fab content. Similarly we have now made several films … and apparently this proves we are ahead of the curve😉

So, the project officially started with a partnership between the London Strategic Clinical network and NHS England to coproduce exciting new Whose Shoes material, exploring some of the key issues around maternity experience. They commissioned five workshops all across London to test and refine the material, including producing a toolkit with guidelines as to how to replicate this in other parts of the country. They have also just published a book of case studies, sharing some of the best practice examples from all the hospitals.

So this is what the formal Whose Shoes maternity experience project was intended to do. But it ignores the extra magic that you can add through social media and drawing in people who are intrigued by what is happening and want to take part. Then in turn they want to join a live event and take local ownership of their improvements. There is real excitement about the first workshop of 2016, happening at Princess Royal Hospital next week!

When this happens, it becomes a ‘change platform’ rather than a ‘change programme’, even though we didn’t know this at the outset!

The momentum has never flagged. After NHS Change Day came the #MatExp ABC of key issues, Flaming June –  a month of pledges and actions, #MatExponTour in an old VW van and all sorts of other popular and slightly wacky initiatives that have kept things on the boil!

The NHS and formal organisations talk about wanting to engage with people. To a large extent, #MatExp has turned this on its head with women leading changes and challenging health professionals to respond. Setting up and managing the #MatExp Facebook group. Setting up and managing the website.

Helen Bevan - MatExp change platformVolunteers have also been stepping forward to set up and run the weekly #MatExphour chat, re-jigging and keeping the show on the road when people are not available at the last minute: just making it happen. Running campaigns. Speaking at events.Supporting each other. Inspiring each other. Leading real change and becoming impatient with traditional events and conferences which sometimes include a lot of … seasoned conference goers.

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So much has happened that this can only be a whirlwind overview. But I am going to pick out a few personal highlights, and in each case a snippet of the story that led to the event. Because these things don’t just happen; in some cases you have to make them happen.


Baroness Cumberlege, Chair of the National Maternity Review, joins some Whose Shoes? discussions in Birmingham.

Linking in with the National Maternity Review has got to be the Number 1. A group of us were invited to the launch event in London. People had said that they were interested in seeing Whose Shoes and talking to us about what we have been doing. There was no formal opportunity so Flo took a fantastic ‘JFDI’ approach and just put the board game out and started talking to people during the coffee break. It led to a copy of the board game being used to promote discussion at all of the review team’s community ‘listening events’ across the country and also helped promote real engagement with all the fantastic input and deep experience of our community. Continue reading

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In the shoes of Gill’s Mum… | Enjoying escaping for Christmas… ;-)

Very special GrannyLots of people have missed updates from ‘Gills Mum’ and asked how she is getting on – especially since her dramatic escape from hospital – #FreeGillsMum.  Mum is really happy living ‘HERE’ (her name – happily now a term of endearment – for her Assisted Living accommodation). For much of the time she has been a bit too busy for blogging – a nice problem to have when you are 93 and time can stretch out in front of you like staring out to sea.

Similarly, I have neglected the blog, dallying with #Steller instead. Did you see our #MatExpAdvent storiesFlo and I posted one a day – one mile short of the full marathon – and achieving up to 30,000 views for a single story, something even Mum’s blogs fail to achieve😉

But I have to confess. Mum has written some blogs … but then I have been too busy to post them so they have piled up in her red folder.

3 lemonsWell, over Christmas all the lemons have aligned:

  • Mum’s been staying with us
  • She has had time to blog
  • And I have time to post it it!

So here, without further ado, is Mum’s Christmas blog:

Boxing Day
Here I am enjoying Christmas very much. I’ve been let out for the festivities!

I wonder how those who had to stay ‘HERE’ – at our ‘Assisted living place’ are getting on. Most people went to stay with their families. I’m sure the ones left behind had a lovely lunch, with all the trimmings and no doubt some entertainment was provided. Or not!

I watch people shuffling into the lounge after lunch and settling down for coffee and a good gossip. I should not say ‘shuffling’ because most of them walk very well, perhaps with the aid of a stick. We also have our ‘walkers’. I hate mine but it does help me get about!

I suppose I should say that they chat to one another, but from what I hear ‘gossip’ is more accurate. I usually sit with some other friends and we listen in.

There are some very interesting people ‘HERE’ Who have had high power jobs in the past. It is very interesting talking to them and hearing where they have been and who they were and what they did. I don’t call that gossip though!


Christmas babyWhat a lovely Christmas with all the family, a new baby, two delightful dogs and two lovely cats! I am so lucky. They all really look after me.

Food of course was delicious and abundant. We played interesting games, which really made us think and showed how differently people view things!

The family took the dogs for a walk and they had a great time, even jumping in a pond (the dogs, that is) making everyone wet anyway when they shook themselves afterwards!! It was fun to see the photos they had taken: big fields with bushes and trees. All very interesting and perfect for Molly and Max to run about all over the place. What energy! I think they need some holding. I helped Gill choose some of the photos and videos for her Steller story.

It was lovely to chat on the phone to Gill’s friend Theresa. They were best friends at school from the age of eleven and they got up to all sorts together. She is 60 today – I can’t believe it. Where did all those years go?

It is so nice being here, with a change of scene and a window to watch other cars moving about, not just coming in and out like back home.


I have been persuaded to stay another two days, then back to the camp, which isn’t bad. Shall find out what other people have been doing over the holiday and enjoy a nice lunch. I have had glorious food here; I must’ve put on tons of weight.

I have enjoyed getting more familiar with my iPad, particularly reading the newspaper, doing puzzles and playing ‘Words with Friends’.. Normally I just play solitaire!

We have seen some good television including the Agatha Christie trilogy “Then there were none” (sinister!) and a film called ‘Peter and Wendy’ –  an adaptation of  Peter Pan, but far too scary for children!

Going back tomorrow and shall see all my friends. I hope they have missed me. The only good thing is that I shall not have to go upstairs at night! That is quite an effort!!

I shall have to dig out some bottles of wine because I have enjoyed it here so much with supper.

I don’t know what is happening on New Year’s Eve but I think they mean to do something. But it will be very Sassenach! They don’t know how to do Hogmanay in England!


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In the shoes of Gill’s Mum… | Back on the rails. Full steam ahead … ;-)

Mum is delighted to be home. Not just home, but pretty much back to normal now. It has been quite a saga, as you can imagine. I am not quite sure what she really made of my #FreeGillsMum Twitter campaign when she became a ‘delayed discharge’, bedblocker or other catchy term of endearment – other than that it was effective and she was very grateful.

My Steller story got about 50,000 views so certainly struck a chord with a lot of people. As for Mum, it certainly put a sparkle in her eye when our Twitter friends sent her flowers and other lovely little tokens of love and encouragement. Not to mention the Ukrainian and Mongolian armies, Scottish bands and even a Trojan horse – thank you everyone!

And, most importantly,  the fact that mum was beginning to decline again in hospital (especially after staff started telling her that she “didn’t need to be here”) and has positively flourished since returning home justifies the ‘guerilla tactics’ I think.

I have been in awe of Mum’s feistiness and determination as she has re-gained different skills. There is something very special indeed about that war-time generation. She has systematically dispensed with the services of the various members of the re-ablement team, a.k.a ‘the derailment team’.

It is quite funny and fascinating to compare their version of things in the ‘official’ notes and Mum’s version of things. And pretty depressing really to see so many different people write down variations of “all Mrs R wants now is help in the shower” without actually managing to provide it in a way that is acceptable.

Anyway, mum says that she really appreciates being back HERE and doesn’t even mind that the minestrone soup still has too many bits in it!

Reablement service 2 IMG_1169This is what Mum says…

There are so many different people, I don’t know who does what. But the key people since I came home seem to have been the derailment team. There have been about 30 of them all told, generally friendly and helpful, and between them they have put me back on the rails.

I have had more assessments than hot dinners and sometimes felt like a performing seal. They have watched me walking. They have watched me making a cup of tea. They have watched me in the bathroom. Not very nice really. I just want to be left alone and I’m lucky now to be able to do most things myself again. But I realised that I still needed help in the shower.

I was really cross yesterday. Two people turned up and woke me up before 8 a.m. I was having a really bad dream and then suddenly, in real life, two people were there by my bed. I found it very disconcerting. Wouldn’t you?

Shower sleeve. IMG_1180They announced that they had come to give me a shower. It was really early, I don’t normally get up until 9 a.m these days. After all, at my age what is the rush?

I don’t think I had seen either of them before. One of them was a man and I had already said very clearly that I didn’t want a man to assist me. I thought that was a bit much.

I’m frightened of the bathroom as this is where I had a fall, so I would like someone to help me in the shower – but not at 8 a.m when I am still asleep.

It is hard to know what to say in these situations. They said they would come back later in the week but if I didn’t have a shower then, I wouldn’t get offered one again. She seemed to have the authority. I am not sure what will happen.

In contrast, I have just had a lovely GP visit me for an ‘over 75 assessment’. Yes, yet another assessment. It has taken them 18 years it seems!

The over 75 assessment seems to be something that the government has suddenly thought up. But a good idea, I think, if they actually talk to people and find out what would help them before it is too late.

Anyway, this young GP was really helpful about everything and we had a very nice chat. He seemed to be able to make things happen. He said if I didn’t get my new pills soon, he would go and get them personally for me! It was really sweet of him. Who knows – perhaps it will make them even more effective?

Mum - Oliver on ipad IMG_1273And now we have a new interest in our lives. Baby Oliver. Mum is as thrilled to be a great-granny as I am to become a granny. New adventures await and the birth of this gorgeous little boy puts everything else into perspective. :)

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Health and care conference goers – a call for action! #NCASc15 #KFintegratedcare

Today the good and the great from the world of social care gather in Bournemouth for the first day of the three day annual Children and Adult Services conference. Meanwhile the King’s Fund Integrated care conference was held yesterday in London.

Perhaps they should all meet up😉

Yesterday I posted a blog that included a video poem about ‘prevention’ – a popular word in these circles … which I interpreted as preventing people falling through the gap between health and care services. It included a ‘call to action’ for conference goers.

It struck a chord as a lot of people recognised the battles far too many people face when they (we!) try to find out about any available support. There were lots of RTs and comments on Twitter but a lot of people didn’t manage to see the video. After all, it is difficult to watch videos when you are at a conference.

So now you have no excuse. Here is the poem:

Mind the Gap!

Policy wonks talk a lot about prevention
In health and social care.
But there is an underlying tension
That nobody seems to mention
Exactly what we are preventing and for whom.
The elephant in the room.

Not just data and stats and other ‘this and thats’
But enabling people to thrive.
To live their lives.
And not be prevented.

We have ‘Continuing Health Care’
Although I don’t know how they dare
Bare-faced to use this phrase. Unfazed.
As they battle for who is going to pay
With impeccable manners.
After you. No, after you. No, you go first. Pray.
Hell bent on preventing
The price tag coming their way.

Continuing Health Care
Implies something so good
All the things we would and should
Expect in old age.

But when we get towards the end of our days
(If we are lucky enough not to pop our clogs
Or otherwise kick the bucket in unforeseen ways)
Life turns the page
And inevitably, eventually we become
Vulnerable.     Yes, me and you.
Dependent on others
As we once were on our mothers.
Scared. And unprepared.

So falls prevention?
The fall I would like to prevent
Is falling through the gap
In services.

So to the leaders going to this conference,
I take you to task
And I ask
What are YOU doing
To join things up?

I’ll call your bluff.
Real action.  Words are no longer enough.

© Gill Phillips @WhoseShoes.

Posted in Blogs, co-production, communication, compassion, dementia, end of life, health, in my shoes, personalisation, poem, safeguarding, TLAP - Making It Real, well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mind the Gap: the gap between health and care services.

As another big conference starts tomorrow – this time the National Children and Adult Services conference in Bournemouth – #ncasc15 – here is my challenge to the delegates:

Prevention… Integration… Mind the Gap!

And here is the story that led to the video:

In June 2015, I was invited to give a talk at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool alongside Dr Mark Newbold, Chair of the Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People. This is a subject close to my heart, both in my Whose Shoes? Work and my personal life.  I published a Steller visual story as a light-hearted way of sharing the experience.

My talk included many stories. I talked about my late father and his eight heart attacks;
I talked about my 93-year-old mum and our efforts to keep her out of hospital, not only safe but happy and as independent as possible.

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I sat and chatted to Mark after the end of the session and he invited me to join the Commission. Instead I suggested a number of ‘critical friends’ that I thought could add a much wider perspective, not least my mum herself.

Well, when I said Mum would be happy to help, I didn’t expect her to go so far beyond the call of duty. She has since provided a real live cameo of how wonderful the NHS is at fixing people…  but how much still remains to be done in terms of joining things up.

Repeated falls, trips to A&E, emergency admission, waiting on a trolley for 3 hours 59 minutes, being moved between wards, communication (or lack of), multiple assessments (Mum said she has felt like a performing seal), scans and treatment, delayed discharge… my mum has had the lot. And then accelerated discharge after my #FreeGillsMum Twitter campaign led to a Steller story which ‘went a bit viral’, not because the story was particularly unusual, more because it was an all too common experience that most people could relate to.

We then entered the world of different teams of carers, an emergency NHS home team, social services re-ablement team (Mum called them the ‘derailment team’), GPs and district nurses, ‘domiciliary phlebotomists’ (my favourite job title) and many more. We met lots of (mainly) great health and care professionals trying to do an excellent job and came across constant examples of processes that didn’t talk to each other: time-consuming and demoralising for staff and soul destroying for patients and families.

So, here is my poem again. A call to ACTION!

Posted in Blogs, co-production, communication, community engagement, end of life, Gill's Mum, health, personalisation, safeguarding, social care, TLAP - Making It Real, well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What a year! My ‘take’ on #MatExp: building a change platform – by accident!

Florence Wilcock had promised to write a blog summarising ‘a year in the life of MatExp’: the story, from her perspective, of the 12 months since we first met. She emailed it to me and I felt really emotional opening the email. #MatExp has been such a huge journey for both of us. I wondered what she would say. I published her wonderful blog  on the actual anniversary (31 July, 2014).

As I am always interested in looking at things from different perspectives, it was particularly fascinating reading a story so close to my heart and with which I have been so closely involved, but through another person’s eyes. What would it be like to revisit the year myself? Some of the events and stories are the same; much is different but complementary.  And it is fab to see others coming forward too and blogging about how we have all come together to build the #MatExp change platform, including Leigh Kendall.

Anyway, here is my story.
I have nicked Florence’s fab headings…

Setting the scene

It had been an exciting time. Whose Shoes?, which I first created in 2008 as a facilitation tool, was catching on in new ways and bringing new opportunities.  Having originally given up my job, jumped ship with a crazy notion, loads of passion, no funding or realistic plan, it had been a veritable rollercoaster. Without social media I would never have survived the long years of the recession where training budgets were slashed and everyone you built a relationship with moved on or moved out.

_DHP5895-Edit - WS DFC graphicsSocial media was proving to be a wonderful way to find like-minded people, passionate about improving people’s experience of health and social care and seeing everyone as whole people with preferences and aspirations, not just health needs. I had started working with passionate people to develop bespoke material around different topics, particularly Sandra Springett, Diane Aslett and some other forward-thinking people from Age UK in Kent. It was the dementia work with them, and experience of building #dementiachallengers as a powerful and enduring hashtag on Twitter that led directly to the maternity project with Florence.

I received an email signed by ‘Miss Florence Wilcock’. Flo and I have laughed about this since as I didn’t realise that it was standard practice for consultants to sign in this formal maiden namey way. I was expecting someone very prim and proper, but when we first spoke on the phone she sounded really animated and engaging. I laugh at the way Florence often says she is confused about things… I was confused.

I linked Flo up with Kath Evans, Patient Experience Lead at NHS England as I knew Kath was a keen Whose Shoes? champion. I was summoned for a meeting at NHS England HQ in London, with Tracy Parr and Sarah Dunsdon from the London Strategic Clinical Network (LSCN), and of course Florence.   I think other people were surprised when Flo and I had a big hug, even though we had never met in person before, but I am more used to tweet ups and for me this is normal when you know you are meeting someone special!

The introduction was very welcoming but then suddenly the atmosphere changed and felt far more formal as I was invited to ‘do my presentation’. Hmm, I hadn’t got a presentation in any formal sense of the word. I just got out the Whose Shoes? board game, and showed them briefly how it worked and what it aimed to achieve. I showed them some of the existing scenarios. The atmosphere was very much us (me!) and them at that point so it cheered me up no end when a couple of guys appeared, abseiling down the building cleaning the windows!

Luckily I had had the forethought to put together a few maternity specific scenarios. I had just printed them on coloured paper and pushed them round the table, inviting people to dive in and take a look. Tracy pounced on a particular scenario. I cannot remember what it was but a lively discussion ensued for about three minutes and I melted into the background, smiling to myself. Tracy suddenly looked a little embarrassed and apologised for ‘going off track’. Then the lightbulb moment. They had not gone off track; they had discovered and understood Whose Shoes? for themselves, something I cannot achieve through a conventional presentation. From that moment, we were all on the same page and the London pilot was born. A painless and natural birth.

August Plotting

Florence Wilcock wrote: "A very small pilot....!"

Florence Wilcock wrote:
“A very small pilot….!”

I remember leaving the meeting excited but wondering how it would all pan out. I had total confidence in Florence and was delighted that the first workshop was going to be at Kingston Hospital. For me it is all about finding the right partners. The backing from NHS England and SCN in London was going to be important but we needed to ensure that we involved women, a mix of people who had had a good and bad experience of maternity care, and avoided a top down approach!

I was aware that we didn’t have long to source the scenarios and the hard work that would be involved in making sure that they were all authentic and crowd-sourced. Although Florence was relatively new to social media, it was brilliant to find a partner who was willing to give it a go and, right from the beginning, we have bounced off each other and been able to stir up a lot of energy on Twitter!

Mum - new flat Img_5053cOn a personal front, I had my mum staying with me for several months after an accident meant she could no longer live alone in her own home;  I was helping her move, rebuild her life and eventually sell the family home and move into assisted living. The extra time together meant we had plenty of time to chat and one of Mum’s stories became Florence’s favourite scenario! August was also my eldest son’s wedding… so time for some posh shoes!

September Sourcing

Gill Phillips with Jane Pollock, a.k.a @midwife_jane who invited her along to the Open Day

Gill Phillips with Jane Pollock, a.k.a @midwife_jane who invited her along to the Open Day

Things got really busy in September and I was very lucky to get the chance to visit the maternity unit at George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton. Again, this was largely thanks to Twitter and I was given a very warm welcome by Jane Pollock and her colleagues. I got some really good insights into current maternity services and only wish that the birthing pools, low lighting and other personalised options had been around when I had my three children! Around this time I also met Carmel McCalmont for the first time, Head of Midwifery at Coventry University Hospital. I learnt a lot about their innovative postnatal work.

Laura Sinclair, a young friend of mine, had recently had her second baby and had a story to share. We were certainly not short of material for our crowd-sourced scenarios and also started to be bombarded by tweets and emails telling us what we should include! Some of the more in-depth scenarios lent themselves to Whose Shoes? poems, particularly Flo’s stream of consciousness email that she sent me in the middle of the night after a difficult ‘on call’ and Jenny Clarke gave permission for us to include a couple of her famous ‘Skin to Skin’ poems!

I started to use #MatExp as a hashtag and was thrilled when it began to gain momentum. I told Flo I had registered it on Symplur. She hadn’t got a clue what I was talking about but liked the idea!

October Lift Off

Img_8264aThe timing of the Kingston workshop was quite difficult for me as it fell immediately before a busy week in Glasgow, where I was speaking at the European Alzheimer’s conference, being interviewed for a local radio station and running two quite demanding Whose Shoes? workshops, including a large community event at Dundee United Football Club! It was interesting moving between such different subjects and yet seeing the similarities in terms of what really matters to people: dignity and respect, choice and control, good communication and being listened to are central to everything!

It was a bit nerve wracking wondering how many people we would have at the Kingston workshop – perhaps Florence’s nerves were contagious! But I knew the material that we had developed was authentic and fitted really well with the Whose Shoes? format, so felt very confident that the discussions themselves would be a success.

MatExp bakeoffI had been a bit frustrated that the NHS seemed to have an incredible eye for detail, in terms of templates and spreadsheets of attendees etc, but it was harder to pin down whether we could actually manage any refreshments! As so often, we were able to turn a potential problem into an opportunity and Florence and her team made some wonderful cakes – the start of the #MatExp bake-off, a lovely personal touch that has been continued in subsequent workshops and is now a key part of the package. My very last-minute approach to finalising slides for my presentation meant that I was able to include pictures of cakes people were baking -and tweeting – late the night before!

I travelled down from the Midlands with Anna, our fabulous graphic facilitator and Laura who was so keen to share her story that she made special arrangements to leave her young baby with her Mum – thank you Rosemary, a dear friend of mine!  I was very moved when Florence also shared her own personal birth stories – she hadn’t told me she was going to do this so I got the full impact when she announced at the end of her moving ‘tale of two births’ that the mother in question was herself. This honesty and sharing of vulnerability set the scene perfectly for the Whose Shoes? approach, emphasising that we are all people rather than fixed into boxes called ‘professional’ or ‘patient’. One of Flo’s junior doctors subsequently said it was like meeting the teacher out of school and realising that they actually have a personal life too!

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I am delighted to quote Florence here:

“The workshop was outstanding, better than in my wildest dreams and the connections and actions have been fizzing along ever since. I spent the days and weeks after the workshop bumping into people and hearing about the progress of their pledges”.

Flo set a very high standard in terms of ensuring that the workshops were action-focused. As time has gone on, this has led to a healthy competition between the participating hospitals to see who can show the biggest or most interesting improvements.

300- 2For my part, I got a real buzz when I first saw the graphic that Anna Geyer had produced ‘live’ during the Kingston workshop displayed on the stairs at Kingston Hospital – a constant reminder of the workshop and all the action that was (and still is!) flowing from it.

November Baton Passing

Kath Evans had been a fantastic catalyst in bringing the maternity work to fruition. Ever since she attended a Whose Shoes? event in Coventry in the summer of 2013, Kath had said that the approach would work brilliantly in maternity and children’s services. November saw me starting to get involved in a project Kath was doing with some fantastic partners including Great Ormond Street Hospital around improving communications between children and young people, their parents and healthcare professionals. This led to us agreeing to use Whose Shoes? as part of the whole-day ‘CYP Me First’ masterclass that was being developed.

It was good to see the cross-fertilisation of ideas between this and the maternity project. The networks were ever expanding. I love connecting people and it gives me a particular pleasure to see passionate people (my friends!) connecting across different topics, who would never normally come into contact with each other.

On the maternity front, the next workshop was Lewisham.

Booklet - MatExp WSI was impressed by the effort that went into developing the toolkit to try to capture leadership and facilitation tips to help this and subsequent workshops. We all chipped in but sometimes I am too ‘close’ to it; a combination of Flo’s clear vision and the LSCN team’s attention to detail meant that the final result was really impressive. I really enjoyed working with Helen Knower, Head of Midwifery, supported by Flo via Twitter and phone calls. It is lovely to see how different individuals put their own stamp on a session – and it was great!

A personal highlight for me happened before the Lewisham session even started. We had a very quick run through of the game for the people who were going to serve as facilitators on the day. Just as with the original ‘presentation’ at NHS England, it was easier to get them dipping into the game and exploring a couple of scenarios rather than just talking in theory. Lynda Machakaire, consultant midwife, announced at the end that I had changed her practice already. A card about language had made her think about certain aspects of how she spoke to women – a real light bulb moment and a lot of honesty. Tweeting as the @BestMidwifeEver, this was someone who was totally person-centred but recognised that there is always space to learn and improve. Florence has said the same: that learning from the discussions has influenced her day-to-day practice. Wow!

And a bit of virtual nagging from Florence kept everyone focused on action:

And the networking continued.

And the workshop is judged to be a success.

Meanwhile we were starting work on a webinar for the 6Cs series

December Momentum building 

It was wonderful to see Florence’s willingness to move outside her comfort zone and as ever our skills and personalities were mutually supportive. I loved the honesty with which Flo said she had never done things before, had a little panic and then got on and did them brilliantly! She is far more organised than me and would start planning something in really good time, whereas I am more last minute. This was just as well as the project started shooting off in all directions, with webinars, films and presentations to prepare, alongside the stuff we had already planned!

I was thrilled when we started planning a ‘train the facilitator’ event in the middle of the pilots. All the Heads of Midwifery (HOMs – I was learning a new language!) from across London were invited; this felt like a real vote of confidence in the workshops and their continuation beyond the initial pilots.

200- 2And then, just before Christmas, our third workshop took place, this time run by Flo’s fellow obstetrician Louise Page at West Middlesex.

Christmas babyI find it huge fun and very exciting to follow a Whose Shoes? event live on Twitter; I love seeing the photos and feeling the buzz. In keeping with the ‘devolved leadership’ strategy, neither Flo nor I got involved in running this event. We were like a pair of over-anxious mums at the school gates, watching with pride as our baby took its next tentative steps to independence. It was just before Christmas so it was a bit like rocking up for the school nativity play and having to watch it on the screen outside in the playground!

IMG_8235aKath Evans was brilliant and attended all the pilot workshops, participating rather than leading and so was able to observe and report on the success of each one. The LSCN team – Sarah, Daryl and Michaela – gave excellent project support and Anna Geyer similarly provided continuity and a growing collection of wonderful graphics recording the highlights and actions from each event.

I was fascinated to see how the ‘putting people in boxes’ sometimes self perpetuated. People were surprised to find out that it was an obstetrician rather than a midwife leading this rather ‘fluffy’ (a.k.a human) project. This went against the established stereotype: midwives are apparently seen as ‘fluffy’ people whereas obstetricians are branded as hard-nosed and lacking in  people skills. Similarly, someone was disappointed there were ‘no users’ on the core team… just before Michaela, a team member from LSCN, gave birth to our first #MatExp baby – but of course, working for the NHS, she was classed as a professional rather than a mum!

Florence told me one night she had quickly filled in a form and applied for #MatExp to be a campaign partner for NHSChangeday.

I was delighted. There was total trust between us with one or other of us flying off and doing  things and hopefully between us covering the key bases. ‘JFDI’ and ‘divide and conquer’ became our watchwords.

We wondered what the New Year would bring but we were pretty sure it would not be dull!

January New Year 

Things went up a gear as we entered the New Year. Due to the success of the early London pilots, there was talk about rolling out ‘Whose Shoes? -maternity’ across London and indeed nationally. While this was very exciting, it was also a bit worrying. Whose Shoes? is values-driven – it needs to engage hearts and minds. I do not want it ever to be dumped on someone’s desk from on high saying “This tool seems to work. You need to do it!” That kills anything, as I know from my own experience when, in a previous life, I was asked to “report on outcomes”, when nobody had a clue what this really meant but it was  all very fashionable!

Img_3473 Flo's pledgeFlo was wildly excited when we got the ‘green light’ from the NHS Change Day team saying that #MatExp had been chosen as a campaign partner. We both were.  I realised just how much it all meant to Flo and what I loved was that it has always been about spreading the word and improving things for women rather than any personal aggrandissement. Flo was building such a national profile but as a by-product rather than ever being a driver.

We were in constant touch, trying to keep the various plates spinning, and so it has been ever since. We discovered tips that are never mentioned in project management / leadership manuals – not least that if you have an owl (me) developing ideas late at night and a lark (Flo) adding some more and pinging them back at day-break, you get a hell of a lot done!

The NHS seem very keen on early-morning teleconferences. As you will have gathered, I am not an early morning person. We were planning the train that the facilitator session and finalising a toolkit capturing the formula in terms of how to lead a workshop – the practical elements and the more nebulous elements, such as how to create the right atmosphere.

I forgot about one completely but had been tweeting right through it (my early-morning activity of choice) so was ‘caught red handed!’. Kath Evans, who is probably the kindest and most positive person I know, found some lovely words to direct message me but was effectively saying “Gill are you going to do in this teleconference or what?” Whoops!

I was under pressure to come up with a business model. again it was a case of trying to ensure that there is real ownership in individual hospitals, and also a way to build for the future, adding on new subject areas as maternity is just one example of how the tool can be used. Serendipity is a huge part of my journey and some key people, including Kate Greenstock (@wildrubiescoach) came along at just the right time to help me think through my ideas. It has been wonderful to discover people like Kate who I hope will be able to spread the message and facilitate events on my behalf, as we have done in other areas, particularly #dementiachallengers.

The network was growing: different people using their different skills and passions. There was fantastic attention to detail by the SCN team and, jumping forward, this continues to be a strength as we head for NHS Expo where it probably feels to them like herding cats with a gang of mavericks coming up with more and more ideas and going off in different directions!

Personal actionsFlo and I attended an NHS Change Day planning day together and were probably slightly tricky for the team there as we had so much going on and it was such a rare opportunity to meet together in person. We also knew very clearly what we wanted and gave their website designers a few headaches with our long list of actions and different leaders (a fab mix of mum-leaders and professional leaders) for different bits of the #MatExp campaign! People were coming forward to lead different aspects of the campaign. Wonderful people like Jenny Clarke (Skin to Skin); Amanda Burleigh and Hannah Tizzard (Opimal Cord Clamping); Leigh Kendall (Language – teaching us all SO much via fantastic #HugosLegacy and #saytheirname); Emma Sasaru and Helen Calvert (breastfeeding); Ruth-Allen and Carolyn John (informed choice); Rosey and Dani (postnatal support). Too many to mention but you know who you are!

I have always loved the Cleveland Clinic empathy film so it was really exciting when the London SCN commissioned a similar film from Silverfish. It was fun choosing the scenarios to appear in the film, all sourced from our Whose Shoes? workshops. Again, Florence and I felt as if we were being picky, coming back with loads of suggestions and edits. These things are really difficult in terms of appealing to everyone, but I think we are all delighted with the final result and positive feedback the film has received, with over 3000 views already.

It is a great resource and is being shown at maternity conferences everywhere; I felt very emotional when I saw it for the first time on a big screen at our workshop in Guernsey.

Work was of course continuing in other areas and sometimes it is hard to juggle the different subject areas, especially as I invest so much time in supporting people on social media. I love it when things do not fit into boxes and building links across my various networks is very rewarding. We have had a few gatherings in London where the main thing people have in common is that they are part of ‘my gang’ and I love seeing them build their own friendships and alliances.


Passionate dementia care team in Basildon

Immediately after the NHS Change Day meeting with Florence, I went on to meet the fab dementia care team at Basildon & Thurrock Hospital. I was very happy to distribute NHS change day light bulbs, and spread the word of the ‘Dementia Do’ campaign which builds on our NHS change day campaign from 2014.

Img_2283c - thought diversity posterFlo and I were also pleased to take part in the NHS Thought Diversity day in London. This has gone a bit quiet recently but the key idea seemed to be that it really adds value to look at issues from lots of different perspectives. We would agree !!:)

Another new experience for me was to be a judge in the Penna awards. It is heartening to see the fantastic work that has been done across the country to improve patient experience.

Fabulous February

The first week in February was indeed mad. I managed to stay for most of the week with Theresa, my best friend from school days. She has known me since I was 11, so perhaps it is just as well she is not on social media as she might have a few beans to spill! This meant that not only did we have the ‘Train the Facilitator’ and the Queens hospital workshop in one week, but I managed to fill every moment in between with meetings, either of a ‘business’ or social nature – or in practice there is often very little to divide the two.

This week was very special. I met for the first time three of the leading lights from our campaign. Flo and I got the chance to spend time with the inimitable ‘Jenny the Midwife’ @JennytheM, famed for her wonderful campaign to make ‘Skin to Skin’ a reality for every mother at every birth. You had to be there to appreciate the ‘tale of the heated loo seats’. I had dreamed of meeting the woman who once climbed a step ladder and daubed ‘Skin to Skin’ in large letters on the operating theatre wall, because no one was listening. See what I mean about special people?

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Jenny had come down from Blackpool for our ‘Train the Facilitator’ event and similarly Helen Calvert @heartmummy, had come from Manchester. Leigh Kendall and Dr Carolyn John joined us for the event at Queens hospital and I felt very honoured that our amazing team were making such an effort to come and see what was happening in person.

The Queens Romford workshop was part of our ‘devolved leadership’ approach, so strictly speaking neither Flo nor I were meant to be there. But we both found an excuse to come anyway, and got the chance to see Wendy Matthews lead a brilliant event. It was jam packed – apparently 69 people turned up for the 40 places. Because I did not have an official role, it was an opportunity to run round with my small video camera, capturing some of the highlights of the day, as did a couple of members of their very responsive Comms team. Poor Mr #WhoseShoes was subsequently trying to help when he edited the film and cut out all the background noise; but then we had to put it back in…  after all babies are really what these events are all about!

Flo and I shot our video for NHS Change Day in the noisy corridor at the end of a long afternoon: not the best quality, time or place but we just had to… JFDI!

People often say ‘let’s meet up when you’re next in London’. It was fun hopping between meetings to progress specific projects such as #KHFTWhoseShoes and #CYPMeFirst and more general ‘tweet-up’ type meetings such as finally spending some time with Richard Humphries from the Kings Fund and meeting up with a PhD researcher from UCL, whom I first met at the ADI World Alzheimer’s conference in Puerto Rico!

If you want a break from reading this ‘War and Peace’ blog, I hope you enjoy this beautiful and indeed haunting music by the local university students – a truly memorable introduction to a conference!

I went to Preston to join ‘NHS Change Day, North’. Paul Jebb was rather rash to sit next to me that day as I was looking for early pledges to undertake the lithotomy challenge – thank you Paul😉

The next day I went down to Skipton House in London and got the chance of my ’15 minutes of fame’ when I was suddenly invited to speak on camera to NHS CEO, Simon Stevens. With some very helpful last minute advice “Less is more” from my friend Alison Cameron burning in my ear, I stepped forward.

As anyone following #MatExp will know, language is possibly the most consistent issue that we are picking up in our campaign. Simon Stevens seemed to be listening, really listening so I was keen to give him a real example. There was momentarily a stony silence as I asked him how he would feel if he was told that he had “failed to dilate”. Luckily, he laughed and said that for a start it would be a gynaecological miracle and the ice was broken. But it is such an important message that I hope he remembers it. In a good way, of course.😉 Interestingly, the footage seems to have disappeared without trace…

Gill and Simon Stevens and card

There is huge potential to explore the use of Whose Shoes? in more specialist areas and I’m hoping that this might be one of the outcomes of the national maternity review. For example, I had the huge privilege of taking part in a focus group of young mothers with learning disabilities. I was shocked by some of the things that I heard – but I guess if we are finding so many gaps in communication generally, it is hardly surprising to hear of more vulnerable people being left bewildered and unsupported – and worse.

Twitter NHSMeanwhile I was spending a disproportionate amount of time preparing for to give a talk about blogging at the Twitter NHS conference. I do find it hard juggling accepting we get requests and suchlike well into the future and The reality delivering them when the time comes alongside pressing work priorities. It was the day before our webinar for 6Cs. Florence has described it in her blog – chaotic, crowd sourced and huge fun! I also was delighted to publish Flo’s “first and only blog” – or so she claimed loudly at the time…

ROAR bookAnd talking of publishing things, ‘our’ book was published – Roar…compassion   It had been a huge surprise when Sheena Byrom originally invited me to write in chapter, one of the original contributors, long before I had done any work around maternity services. The publications have been delayed as more and more people were discovered and added and now it felt extremely timely! I was delighted to be included alongside about 40 international examples of good practice. It has sold 3000 copies and is now being re-printed.

March Mayhem

I had been looking forward hugely to NHS Change Day. I had promised ages ago, that whatever happened, I would come and support Florence with activities at Kingston Hospital. I knew we would do something around #MatExp but wasn’t sure what. As it happened, Kingston hospital were doing loads of good stuff, so much so that we were delighted to hear that Helen Bevan, the Edge and the NHS change day film crew had chosen ‘us’ to visit!

I thought they would perhaps pop into our drop-in session in the antenatal clinic in the afternoon. I hadn’t expected them to arrive en masse for our whose shoes taster session for the whole of the Executive team! They caught the end of the discussions, using some bespoke Whose Shoes? scenarios to explore a real complaint. I was thrilled as Helen had always said she wanted to see the game in action, but we had only managed ‘near misses’. This time she at least saw the ‘aftermath’ as the team discussed what they had experienced – an opportunity which led directly to the exciting project we are doing at the moment, using Whose Shoes? to explore areas of patient and staff experience across the hospital: #KHFTWhoseShoes.

Helen Bevan did a little interview with me in the antenatal clinic – the only clip that has been published is five seconds (at seven minutes 30) on this excellent video, about the whole day, and of course starring Florence doing her lithotomy challenge.

What a great idea! We have since had a steady stream of tweets sending photos of health care professionals, and particularly male obstetricians, experiencing the lithotomy position and suggesting ways in which issues can be avoided or at least improved.

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It was brilliant that Flo was not only willing to do the lithotomy challenge, but to be filmed and then to share the learning via a blog. Yes, that’s right, another blog. 😉 We published it on Mothers’ Day and I was able to include a photo of the lovely #MatExp necklace Florence had sent me.

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MatExp necklace cShe had bought us matching ones and we have enjoyed wearing them to events ever since, especially when we do something together! I have found a great conversation starter at non-maternity events, and I wore in Scotland when I went up there for a week, giving talks at the fabulous ‘We chose to climb’ international conference and then workshop with NHS Education for Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland.

Shoe on wall - RCOGFlorence and I were bouncing off each other more and more. It was brilliant that Flo had an excellent meeting with David Richmond, president of the RCOG. When we started writing these blogs, I asked her to remind me how this came about. Apparently I had emailed and got a lovely reply from Lesley Page, president of the RCM, so Flo had a rush of blood to the head (her words) and emailed ‘her’ president. I laughed when she tweeted a picture of one of my little clock keyrings on the wall outside the prestigious premises!

CYP Img_4680AMeanwhile the Great Ormond Street #CYPExp masterclasses, using Whose Shoes?,  had started and were coming thick and fast. I went to the final pilot workshop and it was lovely to see Kath Evans there, just as supportive and enthusiastic as ever.

It seemed slightly strange having one final pilot maternity workshop at the Whittington, as by this stage the project had  been deemed a success and we had already held the ‘train the facilitators’ event.  Flo and I behaved ourselves this time and waited patiently outside the school gates, but checked in constantly on Twitter. Once again there was very positive feedback and lots of actions – and I particularly loved seeing the black cat on Anna Geyer’s wonderful graphic.

200- 2It was great to see stronger and stronger links forming with the NCT, MSLCs and other groups around the country as people gained confidence in working collaboratively and as we all realised that we are stronger together; #WhoseShoes by definition includes everyone. I know how impressed Flo was by the presentation Helen Gray gave at the mini Whose Shoes? at the South West London Maternity study day and we were starting to get tweets mentioning #MatExp at conferences at home and abroad!


With the pilots over, we entered April without any particular plan but her created the conditions for a bit of magic to happen, as organic development is what it is all about! Florence asked me what I thought about a #MatExp alphabet. It was brilliantly simple – just the sort of thing that I love and neither of us could believe the energy it generated. People were waking early to post their daily tweets. Mr #WhoseShoes sometimes struggles with my social media presence and thought we had all lost the plot at that stage I think.

I had a really random day myself when I met up with some fab people from the Netherlands at the big Quality and Safety forum at Excel in London. As I was not actually a conference delegate, and the conference costs a fortune to attend, we met in the main entrance. We ‘kind of’ after permission to demonstrate the board game on the counter of the cloakroom. The four of us were gathered on one side as apparently it was overstepping the much to stand on the cloakroom side! I am hoping to get involved in the first Change Day, Netherlands and link them up to the work that we are doing at Kingston Hospital – we’ll see.

I bumped into a couple of people who assumed I was presenting there and it felt a bit flat to have to walk away. We are hoping to get opportunities to present at conferences like this about #MatExp but we are not sure if they are quite ready for us yet. You have to submit abstracts about nine months in advance – our whole project is only a year old now, so we cannot really get their heads around this kind of time frame! 😉

I had to rush off to Kingston Hospital to meet Florence, Sarah Dunsdon and Rupa Chilvers from Better Births. On our ‘divide and conquer’ principle, I had initially said to Flo to go ahead without me, but got the opportunity by combining this with calling into Excel and thus justifying yet another trip to London. It was just as well I did as this turned into a fantastic opportunity to make a film about the  whole #MatExp project. We had done no planning at all so simply rattled away to the camera, remembering key things as we went along, but not necessarily in the right order! Rupa was skilled enough to add some photos and other bits to bring the video alive and it is proving a useful resource.

As I say, I love it when different aspects of my work blend together. My raison d’être is around breaking down barriers, silos and generally de-labelling things, so finding ways to straddle my maternity and dementia work feels exciting. Very often this happens through serendipity. For example, Mel Pickup and I were both speakers at the Dementia Quality of Care event in Manchester; this led to me picking up (excuse the pun!) on the excellent work Mel and her colleagues were doing in Warrington, me inviting Mel to write an ‘in my shoes’ blog (featuring twiddle muffs!), and then finding out that Mel was a member of the new maternity review team! This gave an opportunity for Mel to learn more about what we had been doing around #MatExp and become interested: we are planning a workshop later in the year.

Meanwhile Flo and I were very excited to get the green light to use the Whose Shoes? approach to explore patient and staff experience in other areas of Kingston Hospital. I now spend quite a lot of time at the hospital and also interview people over the phone and use a wide range of other source material to co-produce challenging scenarios. I really enjoy new development work and Florence and her fab P.A. ‘Virtual Kate’ have done an excellent job producing a monthly newsletter Whose News? to raise awareness. #KHFTWhoseShoes is our new hashtag and another fascinating journey is underway!

It is also rewarding to be able to bring new ideas into the hospital – for example I was privileged to be invited to the two day HSJ Innovation Summit in Marlow – the networking and learning were amazing. This had the spin off benefit that I was able to meet up with  Marcia, my old line manager in an earlier life when I was employed, who became a dear friend. It was Marcia who encouraged me back to work after long-term, serious  sickness when I had lost a lot of confidence and things were difficult. It is so important to take the opportunity to tell people what a difference they have made to our lives.

May, What’s next?

MatExp logo 2 - text down side - KenWe were all enjoying the #Matexp alphabet and it was brilliant when my friend Ken Howard spontaneously designed a logo for us. It has proved hugely popular and is now being displayed on our website – look out for our jaunty T-shirts at NHS Expo!

Ken, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nearly 10 years ago, has met a number of my #MatExp friends, including Leigh Kendall, when they were both included in the top 50 HSJ Patient Leaders – but that is jumping ahead because it didn’t happen until July. As you may know, I am not one for very tight structure, so we needn’t stress about it.  More importantly we were suddenly embarking upon a month of action, with people tweeting selfies of what they were pledging to do, Leigh designing our own #MatExp website and Helen Calvert, Susanne Remic and Emma Sasaru setting up a #MatExp Facebook group! Everyone was pulling together and making things happen!
I remember going for a walk in the woods and reflecting on our amazing collaborative journey:


FlamingJuneIt was ironic that Flo had chosen #FlamingJune as the theme for our month of action. Weather wise, June was anything but flaming – but the #MatExp community was on fire. We launched the JFDI website that Leigh Kendall put together in no time at all and soon it was being crowd sourced with links and blogs. It was lovely to see the colourful selfies being posted and the wide range of actions that people were taking. The Facebook group got 700 members in the first couple of weeks I think, and has hosted really in-depth discussions. This takes a lot of time welcoming new members, posting and encouraging discussions, being diplomatic and encouraging – and lots of other things I do not understand so well about Facebook😉 Huge thanks to Emma, Susanne and Helen for building this in such an energetic and whole-hearted way. We need to find a way of feeding in the learning from these experience-based exchanges into the National Maternity Review.

I was really sorry to miss the big event in London on 10 June, with somebody speaking from each of the five London pilots and describing what had been achieved so far. It sounded like a lovely mix of collaboration and healthy competition as each person reported on all the actions that had taken place and plans to build further. The #MatExp empathy film was finally launched.

Meanwhile, I had a busy month too. I was very honoured to be asked to give a talk at the NHS Confederation in Liverpool. As you will see from my Steller story, I really love the place. I now have an interesting conversation building with maternity providers in the Merseyside area, so perhaps I will get the opportunity to go back soon.

NHS Expo 2014 give me a really good opportunity  to be able to think on my feet and run a workshop pretty much anywhere – I will never forget the fun we had trying to run a workshop in the Dementia Cafe in the middle of Expo, with wild activity going on all around, including NHS Change Day people marching up and down with banners. And so, when Flo was in a bit of a flap about changing plans around our #KHFTWhoseShoes workshop at Kingston Open Day, I was able to calm her. I quite liked the idea of a drop-in session session opposite the do-it-yourself keyhole surgery stand! I was als enjoying making Steller stories so made another one.

It was a lovely informal way of meeting a lot of people from across the hospital and we were made very welcome, not least by Kate Grimes the CEO who is incredibly supportive of the work we are doing. I’m not quite sure how Flo and I managed to sneak off for long enough to make this video with Yvonne Newbold and her lovely Dad Maurice Trimmer, talking about our session.

At the end of the month, I flew out to Guernsey and really enjoyed mixing work and play (there are no real boundaries for me!) meeting the fab maternity team and running our first maternity workshop outside London. Another Steller story! The word was spreading. We were starting to receive enquiries to run workshops at other Trusts up and down the country.

Just Do it July

I had planned my trip to Guernsey in time to get back for the wonderful ‘Caring for the carers’ event organised by Jane Pollock @midwife_jane at George Eliot hospital. I couldn’t believe that it was my first ever maternity conference and was excited to be meeting many #MatExp stars, but particularly (at last!) Sheena Byrom. There were excellent presentations including one by Jacque Gerard where I learnt about the ‘undermining toolkit’, produced jointly by the RCM and RCOG and sadly very relevant to our work in #MatExp, #KHFTWhoseShoes and beyond. It was only a small (and for me local) event, but with a lineup worthy of a major conference – a tribute to the power of Twitter to bring movers and shakers together for positive change. It felt like a #MatExp tweet up!

It had been about a year since I first met Jane when I visited the maternity open day at George Eliot hospital and won a trip to Twycross Zoo for naming the kangaroo mascot! I enjoyed my subsequent visit to the zoo and I think five-year-old Charlie enjoyed it even more!

Name badges - STOPI was so busy meeting the #MatExp crowd in person that I missed my SHCR ‘certificated radical’ virtual graduation – but luckily my youngest son was to have a real graduation ceremony later in the month! The next day I was ‘back at the school gates’ following the fantastic tweets coming from the workshop at Saint Thomas’s hospital in London. They were using the leadership toolkit produced by the London SCN, but putting their own little touches to it. I particularly loved the sign they put outside telling people to leave their NHS badges at the door. The principle of having inclusive badges – names rather than roles – has always been a feature of Whose Shoes? but we have never had a ‘Stop’ sign before!

And so we were coming to the end of our first #MatExp year and, remembering the origins of this incredible project, it seemed fitting to re-visit amazing places making a real difference to people living with dementia – and so I ran a workshop with Simona Florio and the Healthy Living club in Lambeth and then with Sandra Springett, Age UK, Tunbridge Wells – work in Kent had directly led to the maternity project.

Our second topic for #KHFTWhoseShoes is around life in theatres. Developing this new material has been fascinating . I got to wear scrubs for the first time, touring the Kingston operating theatres with Flo as we involve more areas of the Hospital.

We had been waiting to see how our rather maverick #MatExp campaign would fit alongside, or preferably working closely with, the more formal National Maternity Review. We were therefore delighted when members of our core team were invited to the National Birth Tank listening event in London. It was a really informative and enjoyable day, with so many fantastic passionate people in one room. It felt as if we made an impact – I was interviewed about #MatExp for a video they are making. Meanwhile Florence was incredibly proactive (posh word for JFDI because it was a posh event) setting up the Whose Shoes? board game in an alcove and showing anyone who was interested! I returned from my interview to find her demonstrating it briefly to Baroness Cumberlege…

And now the Maternity Review team are using Whose Shoes? in their listening events across the country! It was a mad rush to get everything ready for the first ‘listening event’ in Preston and rumour has it that the Review team were playing the board game on the train to get their heads around it😉

What next?

It has taken me a month longer than Flo to write this blog and August has continued to be busy. Luckily one of the first ‘listening events’ was in Birmingham so I got the chance to show the Maternity Review Team the tool in action and Baroness Cumberlege even joined us! I met lovely Emma for the first time and one or two other #MatExp stars. We were very honoured indeed to be featured in Baroness Cumberlege’s blog.

But the big #MatExp tweet up comes on Wednesday as ‘#MatExp goes to Expo!’ Flo and I will travel up together from London to Manchester, after the launch of #KHFTWhoseShoes ‘Theatres’ tomorrow! We might be a bit hyper.

Bazaar - Helen BevanWe had some very ambitious ideas for a #MatExp bazaar at Expo (symbolic of a chaotic but energetic change platform, A powerful analogy coined by Helen Bevan.). We are very honoured to be invited and have the chance to spread the word although the format is a lot more ‘conventional’ then we had hoped. It will be a bit of a bizarre bazaar with everyone sitting in rows. We are also in the early stages of planning our very own conference, with a venue already offered… and Twitter running through it like a stick of rock😉 Watch this space!

Heart values#MatExp ideas come thick and fast. A reverse ABC. A #MatExp Colouring book. Heat values. Room 101 for out of date practice we want to get rid off. Possibly a variation on the “purpose obfuscation ‘ometer” we spotted on Twitter??

And more workshops in North Cumbria, Warringon, Chelsea & Westminster, South East London maternity Network, Kent and more. We are talking about writing a book; I think I have written half of it here!

#MatExp is truly crowd-sourced and the momentum is building. Look out for the evaluation that has been commissioned by the NHS Change Day team and should be available in the next couple of months. We are so grateful to all the wonderful people who have stepped forward to make #MatExp happen, driven only by a real desire to improve maternity experience for women everywhere. Flo summed it up perfectly. We are “indebted to anyone who has participated, shaped, taken action or had a conversation however big or small. You are all the reason this has been such a successful year and with your ongoing input and action we can make a difference, make a change and make others believe that it’s possible too. THANK YOU”.

There are SO many people doing fantastic work, I know I haven’t mentioned everyone. It has turned into a bit of a personal reflection – something for my ‘memory bank’:)
Please let me know any key omissions and I will add them in.

AND it would be brilliant if others wish to come forward and write a blog:

When did you become aware of #MatExp, how have you been involved and what difference has it made?

Meanwhile, we hope to see lots of you at NHS Expo!

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