Every so often – and sometimes more frantically – my phone pings with a WhatsApp message. I am not really into WhatApp so I know it is likely to be another message from one of the fab group of West Midlands NHS Change Day ‘Hubbies’. They are using it as a tool to stay in touch and plot the next moves as they co-ordinate and support people planning actions for NHS Change Day 2015, on 11 March 2015.
I have been a big fan of NHS Change Day from its earliest days so have been watching with interest to see how the campaign evolves; essential in my view to keep hold of the spontaneity and fun that have made it a global success and inspired countries across the world to share the ethos and energy and set up a means of anybody and everybody feeling empowered to make a difference.
I had met Lydia Salice, another passionate Hubbie, at the New Health Care Voices event in Birmingham. I suggested that one of the group might like to write a guest blog and Ellie Milner duly sent it to me last week. It felt very timely as we had just heard that our #MatExp project had been accepted as one of this year’s campaigns and we were very excited.
The 2015 NHS Change Day campaign will be built around actual actions and how they have made a difference, rather than just pledges. I am meeting up with Ken Howard on Wednesday. We are both very honoured to be invited to the NHS ‘Thought Diversity Day’ – and I promise that between my Whose Shoes? approach, always looking at issues from different perspectives, and Ken’s Harley-Davidson-storming approach to living well with dementia, we will offer a bit of thought diversity! Follow us on Twitter @kenhowarduk and @whoseshoes and have your say using #thoughtdiversity!
Anyway, Ken and I will also need to finalise our contribution to the ‘100 days of change’ write-up of outcomes from our ambitious NHS Change Day campaign 2014. Different stories are being published every day – take a look at #100daysofchange and get inspired to join in with your own actions.
So, a lot is happening. But here is Ellie to tell you what it is like to try and get some really good stuff up and running in the West Midlands to make NHS Change Day 2015 even bigger and better than the last two years…
Who would have thought that we would have such a diverse group of individuals all working together to take action to improve or celebrate the NHS? When I first heard about NHS Change Day, I got so unbelievably excited. I’d like to share a little bit of what it is like for me… a NHS worker, a student paediatric nurse and patient, to be involved in NHS Change Day.
Throughout my time as a Hubbie for NHS Change Day, not only have I witnessed an overwhelming amount of change within the NHS, but I have also gone through a lot of change myself. When I started my role as Hubbie, I was working at Birmingham Children’s Hospital as the Patient Experience and Participation Support. As you can imagine, NHS Change Day was right up my street. Day after day I would be speaking to children, young people and their families to see what we were doing well within the hospital and what we might be able to do better. NHS Change Day seemed perfect to bring about change, bring it about quickly and celebrate everything that we do.
For the first year I supported Birmingham Children’s Hospital with their pledge to ‘go that extra mile and make someone smile.’ The enthusiasm for this was just incredible, so many teams and departments got involved making both pledges on an individual basis and as a department. Yes, we had magicians in, yes we had balloon modelling, yes people thanked their support workers, yes there were extra tea rounds… but, shall I tell you what was incredible? Those pledges that have lasted and the fact that we can see changes still happening. I just love it! One team used NHS Change Day as a prompt to collect feedback from their patients every Wednesday and act on the feedback- months down the line and that was still happening. On the actual day that we hosted NHS Change Day, there was such a buzz, one member of frontline staff even told me ‘I wish that every day could be NHS Change Day.’ Well, actually it can.
At that point I tweeted about our day and got involved on a regional level coming together with lots of different Hubbies to do what we all love doing the most… making a difference. This is what I just love, the fact that ANYONE can make a difference and it can be done at any time of year but NHS Change Day is a fantastic prompt. At this point I moved onto different things and my life changed a little, in fact I’d go as far to say- my life turned upside down. I was admitted to a hospital myself and spent 10 months in there. I could say that I was absent from NHS Change Day, actually this just gave me even more enthusiasm to get involved. I was no longer doing this from a member of NHS staff’s perspective, I was a patient and I wanted to make a difference for others. I said that I was going to personally share my experiences and try to make improvements for others that may have been on the same journey as me. Through the power of Twitter, I linked up with the Director of Nursing at one of the local trusts and we are in the process of arranging to meet and learn from my story. How incredible is that?! There is no way that without NHS Change Day, I would have had the confidence to stand up and say ‘I have a story that needs to be told and I’m going to tell anyone that listens.’ It is thanks to NHS Change Day that I had that boost and realised that it is okay to stand up for what you believe in, it is okay to say what you think and it is okay to tell people you want change.
This year I am working both with the West Midlands Hubbies and with other Hubbies focused on patient involvement. We have a whatsapp group for our West Midlands Hubbies to share all our experiences, give advice, ask questions and celebrate the successes of NHS Change Day. Every day I look at the group and think WOW so many individuals from so many different walks of life are coming together, making changes and having fun at the same time! It feels like we’re all a big family and I have certainly made some amazing friends through the process. For me, I felt that I needed to involve patients and the wider community a little more as I am certain that everyone has something to say about the NHS. I am able to do this by linking up with other patient leaders nationally to get the ball rolling.
It may seem like NHS Change Day is extra work or something that you may not have time for. This is a myth. We have the ethos that people contribute as much or as little as they like. I have also found that I don’t have to separate my every day time to work on NHS Change Day as I am constantly talking about it. Whilst I spent some time in a school, I was talking to the teachers about it, now that I am returning to university, I will be speaking to my fellow course mates about it and rallying everyone to get involved. NHS Change Day was even a topic of conversation on Christmas Day! I cannot praise this movement enough, I just love it. I love the fact that I am connected with so many others both in the West Midlands and nationally, I love the fact that I can see so many actions happening that do make a difference for both staff and patients.
At the end of the day, I love the NHS and being able to celebrate the incredible work that everyone does and prompt changes in areas that need it is a privilege. I truly believe that anybody who is involved in NHS Change Day is actually helping to shape the future of the NHS. WE ARE HELPING TO MAKE HISTORY.