The importance of trust between colleagues: It’s all about the little things

“Tea” by chumsdock is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Simon Sinek’s Life Advice Will Change Your Future

That named above is billed as a motivational talk for business leaders, and that it what it is [with a typically borderline hyperbolic title]. However,  business leaders are not the only audience who might benefit. I am a big fan of Simon Sinek and I got a lot out of this talk. It has a large focus on the importance of trust between colleagues which makes it relevant to healthcare colleagues where trust is essential for effective team-working (and consequently on patient safety and the effectiveness of care). Check it out.

Trust is vital during this pandemic. More than ever we all need to trust each other – to follow the social distancing measures, to thoroughly wash hands, fully isolate if symptomatic of COVID-19 and other government requirements on our behaviour. In the front-line of the NHS that trust needs to extend further to instances where social distancing is not possible – trust between colleagues; trust between healthcare professionals and patients. This is a big ask for healthcare professionals who are risking their lives on the front-line of healthcare more than at any other time in the history of the NHS. Trust needs to be earned, true, but it needs to be earned quickly.

Brief, ordinary and effective

A little bit of practical advice might be to remind you (introduce you to?) of the ‘brief, ordinary and effective model’ of communication (which BU students can access here).  It is a neat reminder of how effective communication might be still be achieved despite trying circumstances. Trusting relationships are built on rapport, and rapport is achieved by opening up about ourselves to another, revealing an aspect of ourselves that we are comfortable sharing with a relative stranger who might then reciprocate – thus a connection is formed with a fellow human being.  It’s little things that achieve this meaningful connection – shared support of a football team, a love of food, music, whatever (even weather, if you can’t think of anything more interesting!) – it doesn’t matter as long as it promotes a connection. This is not always easy to do, revealing something of ourselves, as it makes us vulnerable.

Healthcare professionals have and will continue to make themselves vulnerable – it was ever thus. But the pressures the NHS is under and will continue to be over the coming weeks as the number of covid-19 cases peaks means that tempers may be more likely to fray as workload exceeds capacity, as colleagues need to self-isolate. Emotions may run high as as heart-wrenching decisions need to be made that would not be contemplated during more normal times, as tiredness and fear contribute to the risk of trust breaking down. That is why a focus on trust is so vital at this time, because trust is fragile – anything as fragile and as worthwhile as trust deserves to be carefully protected. Never stop valuing trust and, while some people will let you down, what this pandemic is showing, I believe, is way more instances of the best of human behaviour rather than the worst (outstanding book on this by the way – Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Our Worst by Robert Salposky, one of the best books you will ever read) – and it all hinges on trust. But how to adhere to the best side of our nature with the stress and strain of this pandemic invading and pervading our lives? We won’t always get it right, but especially when we go awry and our behaviour lets us down we can remind ourselves: be brief, ordinary and effective, and try again. I hope this advice will change your future.

For student nurses – especially V2 – peripheral shutdown

What’s in a word? Well, a lot.

Struggling with understanding peripheral ‘shutdown”? Would peripheral “vasoconstriction” make all the difference?! Here’s what’s happening with shutdown or vasoconstriction (and vasodilation). Check out the amazing Khan Academy if you want to know more.Check out the amazing Khan Academy if you want to know more.

Coronavirus and wellbeing. Some tips to help you during this difficult time

Couple of great looking resources I was introduced to by the BCP Council email newsletter (sign up for it here) to help let some light in on these increasingly dark times. See below.

Dorset Mind has some really helpful information on staying well, deciding on a routine, connecting with people, keeping your mind stimulated and much more.

LiveWell Dorset have also launched a five-ways to wellbeing virtual challenge which involves the following five actions:

  1. Be active
  2. Connect
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

Get involved now, you’re just five steps away from boosting your wellbeing – and be sure to share it with your friends and family to help brighten their day.

It’s typical, you just start your first post as a graduate nurse and along comes Corona…Part 2

Geez – they say a week is a long time in politics but apparently a week is a very long time in a coronavirus pandemic. No sooner had I found some analysis which helped me understand the government’s strategy to manage the COVID-19 pandemic (posted only 3 days ago) the strategy has changed – you’ve probably noticed. Big events are being closed left, right and centre, schools and universities are closing, we have been advised not to visit pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and anyone who can work from home is being asked to do so (alongside home-schooling their kids). What has happened? Put simply, a recent study from Imperial College London calculated, based on emerging data, that if the UK remained with the previous strategy it would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and a healthcare system utterly unable to cope – we had to change course. It is hoped that, as illustrated by the short video below which shows a fire traversing a line of matches, with the right measures and all of us playing our part (following public health advice, hand-washing and social distancing). we might be able to halt the epidemic in its tracks, and save lives.

The UK strategy has changed from that of mitigation – which focused on slowing but not stopping the epidemic (‘Flattening the curve’ See Random tweet illustrating principle of spreading the peak of a pandemic with intervention‘) to suppression – which aims to stop the epidemic. We have moved from targeted social distancing (home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of older people and others at most risk of severe disease) to social distancing of the entire population. For more detail, do read the Imperial College London report – but you may wish to have a stiff drink in your hand as you do so. The suppression strategy is going to be a massive inconvenience to us all, life is going to be very different, and for a lot longer than you might think (hint, months rather than weeks). It is going  to have a potentially devastating effect on those with businesses that are no longer being frequented, on the self-employed whose services are no longer sought, and a huge worry for those still working on the NHS frontline and at higher risk of exposure while their children remain at school. And that is not to mention the devastating effect on those who, to paraphrase the Prime Minister, are going to lose family members before their time.

Our NHS health professionals and other staff are going to show us now, more than any time in the history of the NHS, just what amazing people they are. They are putting themselves at risk (as they always do, but particularly so now) for the country and all who live in it. Through their help and expertise, and all of us taking public health advice seriously, thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands of lives, could be saved. Like many of you  I’m working at home now and looking after my children while my amazing wife continues to go to work in the NHS – she’s been redeployed to help with the COVID-19 fight (alongside many other amazing people who have been or will be redeployed). I’m going to do everything to support my family through this while doing my best alongside my amazing  colleagues at BU to help support our students, and continue to give them a fantastic learning experience online.

For now, stay safe, be kind and support each other. Oh, and if you’ll let me lighten the mood a little, COVID-19 does not appear to cause the ‘runs’. So, to ensure there’s enough to go around, maybe just get your usual amount of toilet roll next time…?

It’s typical, you just start in your first nursing post and along comes Corona…

It’s difficult to concentrate, to even enjoy music without, for example, accidentally hearing “M-m-m-my Corona!” belting out of the speakers. Even one of my favourite songs by The Police “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” has taken on a new and unwelcome interpretation. I guess if there’s any elephant in the room it’s not that we are ignoring staring down the barrel of a coronavirus pandemic, I think everyone recognises that (especially you clever people). It’s more, is the UK response to the pandemic the right one? [OK, maybe it is not so much an elephant in the room. I was stuck with it as I ended my last post with that idiom…].

You’ll already be familiar with the government”s response, responses from universities like BU (that largely echo government advice) and you’ll also have local advice from your employer. But do you understand why the government is taking this particular strategy which appears to contrast that of China, Italy, Ireland? Why is the UK doing it differently? And will it work?

Clearly if I had the answer to this I would be locked in a room in discussion with 10 Downing Street strategising away, but my lack of expertise is confirmed by the fact that I am sitting in my office waiting to be told if/when the uni, like all other unis and schools, will shut down. I’d like instead to share with you a series of tweets by Professor Ian Donald a couple of days ago who makes a number of prescient points about the UK government strategy which makes for sober reading. In summary, the government’s strategy appears risky, but if inherent assumptions turn out to be correct (the educated ‘fingers crossed’ bit), the strategy could prove to be very effective…maybe. The analysis in these tweets helped me get a better bearing on the situation. Hope it helps you too.

Now might not be the best time, but…

Huge congratulations to everyone who recently graduated as nurses from BU! (And I extend this out to anyone else who recently joined a register of healthcare professionals!).

I had originally planned to kick off a series of posts to offer some cheer to the pioneering students of V8 (you know who your are!) who were the first to graduate from BU with a PGDip Adult Nursing ( a course designed for graduates of any discipline with care experience to become a registered nurse in two years rather than the usual three years). Starting in your first post can be daunting, challenging, downright scary – so I had planned to post some things here to act like a little emotional boost. What I had not planned for was this to coincide with an escalating pandemic that risks pushing you guys in the NHS and beyond to the absolute brink of your emotional and physical limits. The maximum ‘Life happens while you’re busy making plans’ seems rather an understatement. My initial thought was that some of the posts I was planning might now seem crass, irrelevant, or even insensitive in the face of the increasingly grim reality. Maybe though what I was planning, to offer some cheer, a tiny bit of practical advice and make more buoyant the recent graduate nurses I had got to know over the last two years (and all other amazing nurses too!) in some ways couldn’t come at a better time…? Well, you will be the judge of that. I will charge on with what I planned – let me know if it is welcome, or indeed if it is not. Look out for my first post in ages (apart from this one ) and it only seems right that first post does not ignore the elephant in the room….

Jonny Branney

The drugs don’t work: what happens after antibiotics?

The drugs don’t work: what happens after antibiotics?
by Oliver Franklin-Wallis

Excellent piece I ‘d encourage you to read in the Observer 24th March 2019 on the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance. It is vital that nurses (and all healthcare professionals) have this problem on their radar so as to play the important antimicrobial stewardship role when interacting with patients.