#BloggingForChange: A pledge for 2014

Jenny Hicken, a Network Delivery Team Facilitator with the Northern Clinical Networks and Senate in Newcastle, gives her own call to action for NHS Change Day:

One of my first appointments for 2014 was a meeting with some enthusiastic colleagues about NHS Change Day, happening this year on March 3.

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling and share the pledges I have made, and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

Change Day is the chance for you to make a personal commitment to make something better – for yourself, for your colleagues, and for your patients – and there is no limit to what this can be. I have so far made three pledges (probably enough to be getting on with).

The first two I made back in November and seemed quite obvious to me as something I could do – one being a commitment to help improve maternity services, and the other pledging to actively involve myself in Twitter networking which, to be honest, is kind of my bread and butter anyway.

Then just before Christmas I hit on an idea which this very blog post is the first step to achieving – Blogging for Change.

The power of the blog is great, and as such comes with great responsibility – somebody may have once said. As I made my first tentative steps into the world of social media and set up my own fledgling website last year, I started to realise the depth and range of experiences that were being shared online for all to see.

Only a few years ago, there was no such outlet for people to share their lives with the world in the way that is so commonplace now. The ‘People’s Voice’ was rarely heard so openly and frankly as is evident in the millions of social media users and their daily Tweets, timelines and blogs.

I was touched by many extremely powerful blogs last year, each of them demonstrating the influence and good that can happen when someone is able to honestly share their thoughts and spread a message sometimes in spite of, or even because of, great tragedy.

One such example is Edspire (a combination of education & inspire), beautifully written by the incredibly brave Jennie Henley. Jennie and her husband David had already endured the experience of multiple IVF cycles, and the premature birth of their now three-year-old twins, when their ‘miracle baby’ Matilda Mae, conceived naturally when the twins were a year old, was tragically taken from them by Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) last February, at only nine months old.

Jennie’s heart-wrenching blog now documents the family’s life after losing baby Tilda, and her efforts to stay strong for the twins. It is often a hard read, but Jennie writes unflinchingly about her grief and her daily struggle to come to terms with what happened.

The power of Jennie’s blog lies in the way it touches the hearts of everyone who reads it. Many people say she has made them think differently about their own lives and to value what they have. She has helped inspire parents to enjoy play with their little ones, in the true spirit of her original blog, and she has spearheaded fundraising for the Lullaby Trust and Bliss, raising tens of thousands of pounds in Tilda’s name. Jennie has shown that you don’t need to grieve in silence or be alone, and has helped many people in the process. We should all hope to be so strong.

Of course, the social media stand-out for many of us in the NHS is Dr Kate Granger, battling terminal cancer yet still not lying down. Her legacy of #hellomynameis, encouraging healthcare professionals to introduce themselves to their patients, will resonate for a long time to come.

Kate’s blog has influenced so many to reconsider how they care as professionals, and how they live as human beings. She has helped people come to terms with similar prognoses by writing honestly and bravely about her situation. I know she feels uncomfortable with being labelled ‘inspirational’ but she is the true epitome of the word.

These blogs, and many others with incredible stories to tell, are real effectors of change to those who read them. Great writing which people cannot ignore, backed up by a personality to make it real, can tug at the heartstrings, change perceptions and be a force for good in the face of adversity.

I feel strongly that there are issues affecting both patients and staff in today’s NHS that should be out in the open. With my personal blog and the privilege of this guest blog, I have the opportunity to raise awareness and campaign for the better. I’m not going to waste it.

#BloggingForChange one post at a time.

Pledge, share, do, inspire – Make your NHS Change Day pledge now:

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Jenny Hicken

Jenny Hicken is a Network Delivery Facilitator in the Northern England Clinical Networks, and is part of the Mental Health and Dementia Network team.

She is currently working on projects addressing the wellbeing of vulnerable groups, and represents the Network team on the North East and North Cumbria ICS Zero Suicide Ambition Steering Group. She also keeps a hand in with the Maternity Network team, with whom she has worked closely on a number of pieces of work.

Jenny lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her husband and two young sons, and has worked in the NHS since 2009.