Look after yourselves in these challenging days

Ahead of the 2018 Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England’s Summit, NHS England’s Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, Hilary Garratt and Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing, NHS Improvement and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England take a look at health and wellbeing for leaders:  

The NHS has faced more challenges than ever in the past few years and we are all aware of the issues we face in the current climate; increased demand, financial constraints, workforce and the need to shape and lead transformation across the whole health and care system.

We both acknowledge the tremendous work of nursing and midwifery teams who are operating in really challenging environments and appreciate the collaborative leadership that guides and supports our systems to be as resilient as possible, using resources wisely, improving outcomes and ensuring the best experience are secured for both staff and people we care for.

During the winter months, in particular, it can often be the case that while we strive to look after others, we often don’t spend as much time as we would like to on our own health and wellbeing. This year’s summit will hopefully give us some space to connect with each other and refresh our minds and energy as we explore our leadership achievements and challenges of the past, present and future.

As Deputy Chief Nursing officers we have been reflecting with Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England on the great examples of how Nursing and Midwifery leaders are often role models to others in relation to actively supporting the health and resilience of the workforce.

At the CNO regional pre-summit events we have heard powerful stories that exemplify this: from supporting staff through terrible terrorist incidents to everyday support given to the front line during the winter weeks; from collaborative work on improvement resources and collaboratives on retention.

We also heard from Mandy Stevens, an extremely successful Nurse Director one day and a mental health inpatient the next. The moving story of Mandy’s  long journey to recovery and beyond highlighted the importance of looking after ourselves, and the reality that what happened to Mandy could happen to many more of us.

The key message from most of these stories was the emphasis on being able to be strong for others and strong for ourselves. Resilience and how to build and maintain it for individuals, teams and systems was the driving theme.

We are, therefore, looking to share more of our stories at the CNO Summit in March. Creating and owning our narrative is something we can be proud of and if we do it well, it becomes part of our image and legacy for future generations.

We encourage you to think and share your own stories about how you support your own health and wellbeing and remain resilient. We know many organisations promote the ‘Five Ways to wellbeing‘ approach, drawn from worldwide research. It’s a set of evidence based actions to improve an individual’s health and wellbeing, focussing on achieving a balance of:

  • Connecting with people, investing time with people, family, friends and communities.
  • Being active in our spare time, run, walk , dance , garden or exercise.
  • Being curious, catch sight of the beautiful and remark on the unusual. Being aware of the world around us and what we are feeling.
  • Continuing to learn. Trying something new, rekindling an old interest.
  • Giving: doing something nice for a friend, a stranger, a charity . It’s about connecting our happiness with that of our community which can be rewarding and motivating.

Some of this may sound simple, but when we are busy, it’s the simple things we can often overlook or take for granted. We invite you to think about the five ways to health and wellbeing and any other ways you invest in yourself. We look forward to hearing your stories at the summit in March.

The 2018 CNO Summit will be held at the Liverpool Arena and Conference Centre on March 7 and 8.

Hilary Garratt

Hilary Garratt CBE, BSc, MSc, RGN, RHV, PGCE is the Director of Nursing in NHS England and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, supporting Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England.

Hilary leads a nursing and midwifery team in NHS England that focuses on a number of national statutory functions and professional development priority areas.

She is a registered Nurse and Health Visitor with over 30 years’ experience of working in the NHS. Hilary has held a number of director posts and a deputy chief executive post in both Commissioning and Provision and has been working at National Director level for the last four years.

From 2013 – 2017 Hilary also volunteered for BBC Children in Need and was a committee member that undertook grant making for the North of England. She is also a trustee of a charity, “Giving to Gambia” and enjoys working in the Gambia for a short time each year as a volunteer to support initiatives that improve health and wellbeing.

Hilary worked in the Calais refugee jungle in 2016 and witnessed the reality of individuals, living through unimaginable trauma. She saw children being lured into the hands of criminals for want of a better life and seeing this first hand brought home the sheer importance of the NHS and other organisations across the health and care system working together to protect the most vulnerable people in society.

Hilary received a CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for services to nursing, particularly her work to safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in society

Follow Hilary on Twitter: @HilaryGarratt.

Ruth May

Ruth May is Executive Director of Nursing, NHS Improvement and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England.
She was previously Nursing Director at Monitor, the healthcare sector regulator whose responsibilities transferred to NHS Improvement on 1 April 2016. She joined Monitor in July 2015. Before that she was Regional Chief Nurse and Nurse Director for the Midlands and East region of NHS England.

Ruth began her career with a variety of nursing roles before becoming a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital. She was Acting Director of Nursing at Barnet Hospital before being appointed the substantive Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive with Havering Primary Care Trust.

In October 2005, she became Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, a post which she held for two years. She has also been Chief Executive of Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust. Ruth led ‘Stop the Pressure’ which nearly halved the number of pressure ulcers in M&E, improving care for patients as well as delivering cost savings to the NHS.

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