Think about a time when you have been in hospital or had experience of an NHS service.

How were you treated by the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals looking after you? Did they introduce themselves? Did they treat you with respect and were they open and honest if a mistake was made?

I spent a day in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London with one of my two-year-old sons last week. His care was exemplary, but what made the biggest difference was being called the next day by the nurse who had looked after him.

She called to see how he slept, whether he’d been eating ok, how his twin was when he came home and to check if I had any concerns following his procedure. As we hung up, I felt reassured, comforted and cared for as a family. That one call made the world of difference to me at a worrying time.

Today I have a  guest post by Jack Adlam to share with you. Jack @JackAdlam, is Deputy Head of Communications at my local National Health Service (NHS) Trust, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust.

He’s here to tell us how they are putting patients at the heart of their work.

I’ll hand you over…

Putting the patients at the HEART of everything we do

We know that hospitals, and indeed all NHS services, are there to provide us with treatment, whether it be surgery or prescribing medication.

However, it is now widely accepted that it is not just what somebody does, but how they do it that truly makes a difference to patients.

For example, I might be very pleased with the outcome of my operation, but if the surgeon looking after me was rude or did not communicate properly with me, then I would feel somewhat let down and disappointed with my experience.

Most of the complaints we receive as a Trust are not to do with clinical care (what somebody does), but the way patients have been treated (how they do it).

This is why, in May, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust launched its new values.

Shaped and developed by more than 2,500 members of staff, as well as our patients, we ran a series of interactive workshops for people to tell us what good care means to them.

We then created four acronyms, encompassing their suggestions and asked staff to vote on their preferred option (electronically via the intranet and in paper form using voting boxes across the Trust).

The results were close, but our staff chose HEART, which stands for:

  • Honesty: we are open and honest in everything we do
  • Equality: we value all people equally and treat them fairly, whilst recognising their individuality
  • Accountability: we will provide excellent care and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all patients
  • Respect: we treat everybody the way we would like to be treated
  • Teamwork: we work together to make improvements, delivering consistent high quality, safe care

Communicating the new values

Led by an executive and non-executive member of the Board, launch events then took place at our hospital and community sites in early May. Hundreds of staff gathered to hear how the values were developed and how they would be embedded into everything we do and say.

The free cake probably helped too!

We distributed posters and handed out branded materials, such as lanyards, post-its and pens. It is probably important for me to mention at this stage that our launch events and associated materials were made possible thanks to funding from Health Education England North West London.

We also premiered our new film, featuring staff and patients, explaining the importance of our HEART values:

So why bother?

It’s a fair question and one that I have been asked on a number of occasions (sometimes by our own staff).

Let’s first set the context.

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the largest integrated healthcare trusts in the country. We run three large hospitals, as well as various community services across Harrow, Brent and Ealing. The product of a merger between two trusts in 2014, we employ more than 9,000 staff and serve a large and diverse population in North West London.

Every single one of our patients, whether they are attending a follow-up appointment or giving birth, deserve to be treated in a caring and consistent way.

Through engaging with our staff and patients, they have told us what that ‘consistent way’ should look like. They have defined how we should interact with our patients and our colleagues every day.

Our new values aren’t just some clever words and phrases that tick a box. They underpin everything we say and do in order to achieve our vision of providing excellent clinical care in the right setting.

Our Chief Executive describes them as the golden thread that brings consistency to the way we do things and I think she’s spot on.

And it’s not just about patients. How we treat each other as colleagues can have a profound impact on how it feels to work here and how effective we are able to be in providing care to our patients.

Of course, launching our values is just the start. We are working to embed our new values in policies, appraisals, induction and our recruitment processes. We are also introducing a new recognition scheme aimed at rewarding those colleagues who demonstrate that they are consistently living our values.

Let’s be clear. No one is pretending these values are going to fix everything, but they are the bedrock that allows us to provide the best experience possible for our staff and patients, ensuring that we are always putting the patients at the HEART of everything we do.

Post author: Jack Adlam.

Thank you Jack.

How to put values at the heart of your organisation

What are your company values? How well do you communicate them? Do they resonate?

My top tips for company values is to ensure they are relevant. If you say people are your greatest asset, how are you actually demonstrating that? Your employees will spot the integrity gap between what you say and what you do.

If you’d like to read more about values, here are some places I recommend:

Do you have a story to share with other professional communicators about your values? Do see my guidelines and let me know if you’d like to write a guest post. You can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC or comment below.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 6 June 2017.

Want to learn about internal communication? Come and join me at one of my upcoming Masterclasses:


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