Making a difference

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On three separate occasions this week I have been reminded of a story that someone once told me about throwing starfish …. The first occasion was whilst attempting to write a blog on leadership and I was thinking about what keeps me going. The second time was when I was talking to someone at the RCN International Research Conference (which I did a fringe presentation at this week with Calvin Morely) and someone from a large nursing organisation said that they were not getting far with some things they were doing on Twitter as they only ever reached two or three people. And the third time was this morning when the wise and wonderful person who first told me this story tweeted it to me again saying remember this …  so I thought that I would share throwing starfish with you:

One of the lessons that I take from this is that making a difference to one person is important. In nursing making a difference to one individual is what keeps us going and the same applies to me in social media. Another wise and wonderful person said to me recently we get what we measure and if we continue to count numbers then numbers is the thing we will get and the individual value will fall by the wayside.  We cannot count in hundreds and thousands with social media as its the individual that matters. Success is in making a difference to one nurse, success is in a valuable conversation between just two people and success is in the small impact that has on the way they care. Within social media in healthcare we need to find a different measure and that is the individual impact that one small action can make on one person. I will continue to throw starfish and will draw strength to keep going because “I made a difference to that one.”

Going Global

6c-logoLast week I was lucky enough to be invited to spend the day with the CareMakers at NHS Innovation Expo – for those of you who have been hiding under a rock and do not know who the CareMakers are they are a group of volunteer student and newly qualified nurses and midwives who were chosen to bring the legacy of the Olympic Games and the GamesMakers to nursing and to spread the word about the new vision and strategy for nursing (you can find out more about them here) To call the CareMakers the most enthusiastic bunch of nurses I have ever met would be an understatement as not only are they enthusiastic but they are caring, visionary, hard working, friendly and some of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met ….. a huge credit to nursing.

The day was a planning day to see how we could take the CareMakers forward and was led by Helen Bevan, who inspired me last week to write “Teresa Chinn: Agent of Change or Ninja ???”, and she did not disappoint in person, the day was fully of energy and inspiration. However it was not Helen provided me with the inspiration to write this blog but rather the CareMakers themselves ….

One of the underlying themes that ran through the day was the possibility of the CareMakers concept going global! This was an idea that ran throughout the room and sparked up within several groups of CareMakers independently of each other and although it provoked slight laughter in the room there is no doubt in my mind that the CareMakers were spot on!

9019209_sThe world in which we live today is very different to the world in which I was a student nurse ….. when I was a student nurse (flashback moment with wavy graphics and wobbly music) computers were a rare thing, mobile phones looked like house bricks and to connect with others who were not in your locality you either had to write letters (yes actually write with a pen!!) or get out your bag of 10ps and head for the pay phone!! Today things are very different – geographical boundaries are no longer apparent, connections to others are being forged across social media platforms and word of mouth has become world of mouth (Qualman 2011)

It is very easy to see the breaking down of geographical boundaries phenomenon if we take a look at WeNurses – WeNurses was born on 4th July 2012 and since then has amassed nearly 5000 followers, but this amount is really of no consequence until we start to delve a little deeper s and realise that no traditional media has ever been used to promote the #WeNurses community.  From the map below we can see that this number is spread quite impressively all over the UK:


But with geography no longer being an issue WeNurses has reached much further than just the UK – as we can see below:


This is world of mouth in action!!!

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So can the CareMakers go global??? There is no doubt in my mind that the CareMakers were spot on with their vision of the future as I believe their messages will be spread far and wide and not only will this be on a global scale but also the growth of this will be at break neck speed.  Social media provides us with the opportunity to grow wide and fast and spread our messages across vast localities … and all in the palm of our hand!

My message to you is to keep watching the Caremakers (via @CareMakers or #caremakers) as great things are coming … on a global scale!


Qualman E (2011) Socialnomics. New Jersey. John Wiley & Sons

Teresa Chinn: Agent of Change and Ninja??

ninjaI have often heard the phrase “agent of change” especially of late with the upcoming NHS Change Day on 13.3.13 but it has never been a phrase that I have applied to myself. Agent of change to me conjures up all sorts of ninja style aggressive fighters that bravely storm the castle fighting the good fight …. This is not me! Anyone who meets me soon realises I am not a ninja!!

The work that I have done using social media to bring nurses together to connect, share and support has not been fuelled by the desire to be an agent of change but rather in response to the problem of an increasingly disconnected and unsupported nursing population (of which I was one of).  Using social media I have been able to think differently and facilitate nurses to come together and form a community … there’s nothing ninja about that! In fact to me it’s all about thinking differently to resolve the challenges that we are faced with. However this week I took part in a very inspiring webinar “How to rock the boat and stay in it!” presented by Helen Bevan that caused me to reflect. In this webinar Helen was talking about change, being an agent of change and standing up and rocking the boat…..

My initial thoughts were if I am not a Ninja I am almost certainly not a boat rocker! But ninja2as the webinar progressed I started to see Helens point of view and make connections about what she was saying to my own journey. Helen talked about how boat rockers can be laughed at and become isolated within organisations being seen as trouble or difficult. Whilst I am pretty sure I have never been seen as trouble, I certainly remember people laughing at the idea of nurses communicating in a valuable and professional way using social media early on in my journey.  This in turn did make me feel quite isolated however I was very lucky as I had some determination fuelled by my own individual need and in addition to this I gathered some wonderful support that kept me going regardless.

At the start of my journey I felt that something needed to be done as I realised that nurses were no longer connected to each other in a valuable way on a professional basis and I hoped that through taking action and stepping up to the mark I could make a small difference. Through my journey I have had a strong sense that nurses who are able to support each other, learn from each other and share ideas and experiences can feel empowered and confident and become better nurses – in essence a happy, supported and well informed nurse gives good care. In addition to this I have always had the small goals in mind and that helps me to override negativity. I firmly believe that a ripplesdifference made on an individual level is always important; two nurses connecting, sharing and supporting is worthwhile because it makes a difference to those two nurses which in turn has a ripple effect on their colleagues and their patients – I am living breathing testament to this and these days when someone laughs about tweeting nurses it is the impact on individuals and the ripple that has that keeps me going. Although looking back there are times when I have felt isolated and shunned, like the mad woman locked in the attic, I have always had the support of like-minded people who have been locked in with me! Today seeing the impact that WeNurses is having on the nursing community is the most wonderful thing and knowing that came about from an individual need and in turn my one small action gives me a very warm feeling indeed.

Towards the end of the webinar Helen shared a poem by Eric Markham that I immediately identified with:

He drew a circle to shut me outcircle

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout

But love and I have the wit to win

I drew a circle that took him in

I may not see myself as a ninja-esque agent of change dashing in to join the storming of the castle but I have dared to think differently and drawn a circle that is drawing in people individual by individual, nurse by nurse and as our circle creates ripples those ripples are making impact and rocking the boat.

I would encourage all those around me (whether you see yourself as a boat rocker, an agent of change or a ninja) this NHS Change Day to dare to think differently …and if the ripples you make have an impact on just one person then you will have succeeded.