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, SCPHN (RHV), PGCE is the Deputy Chief Nursing Officer NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Hilary leads the implementation of a range of national programmes that focus on safeguarding vulnerable people and programmes that support the professional development and leadership of the nursing profession.

Hilary is a registered Nurse and Health Visitor, with 36 years’ experience of working in clinical, public health and Executive leadership roles in the NHS. Hilary has held a number of Executive Director posts across both commissioning and provider organisations in addition to holding and Deputy Chief Executive post for both. Hilary has been working at National Director level for the last 7 years.

In addition to her professional life, Hilary enjoys volunteering at the front line and also for the third sector. From 2013 – 2017 Hilary worked for BBC Children in Need as a committee member that undertook grant making for the North of England. Hilary also engages in hands on volunteering, working with the homeless and other vulnerable groups in her home city.

Hilary received a CBE in the 2017 New Years Honours for services to Nursing and her national work to safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in society. In 2018 Hilary was nominated as one of the country’s 400 Women of Achievement and Inspiration.

Follow Hilary on Twitter: @HilaryGarratt.

Ruth May

Ruth enjoyed national appointments with NHS Improvement and Monitor, as well as regional and trust leadership roles, before becoming the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England in January 2019.

In June 2022, as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Honours, Ruth was awarded a DBE for her services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS since she started her nurse training in 1985. Upon receiving her Damehood, Ruth recognised the expertise of nursing and midwifery colleagues in caring for people at every stage of their lives and the vital role that the professions and care staff played during the pandemic. Ruth has led the nursing, midwifery and care professions’ response to COVID-19 in England and led collaborative work with UK CNO colleagues, the NMC and trade unions to ensure agreement and consistent messaging on key issues.

She is passionate about nurturing the next generation of NHS nursing and midwifery leaders and encouraging professional development opportunities. This includes advocating for improved mental health awareness, championing volunteer activity to support the frontline workforce, and she is a vocal supporter of the WRES agenda and increased diversity across the NHS.

Proud mum to her wonderful daughter, Ruth is a great believer in a healthy professional and home life balance for all.

Find Ruth on Twitter @CNOEngland / #teamCNO.

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