Gathering viewpoints – having & eating cake!

I have been engaged in a few projects recently where we have taken the time to step outside of the expertise in the room and ask people beyond the project their thoughts and ideas.  Now we all know that in theory this is what we should do .. but in reality is it really worthwhile?

I have to admit to being sceptical at times about things we ‘should do’ and often subscribe to the ‘just get on with it’ approach.  Working in social media things are very instant and getting on with just doing it is essential. Social media is fast, we try new things constantly, some work and that’s great and some don’t so we either move on or adjust.  To have to stop, take time, ask people what they think is perhaps a concept that doesn’t sit naturally with social media.

cake-1227842_1280 (1)

This all presented a bit of a dilemma for me – do I stay true to my social media roots and just go for it or do I stop, gather opinion and delay? But why can’t we have our cake and eat it? Why can’t we get on with doing things AND gather opinion in a timely manner? The more I thought about it the more I thought … we can !! We have the power … social media !!

Sometimes the solution is staring us in the face and screaming very loudly “look here” Social media is a great way to gather opinion ! So here’s what we did:

The first project we developed a tweetchat, asked for ideas and thoughts and then discussed those ideas and thoughts to develop a concept.  We then developed a blog to share that concept and from that held another tweetchat to discuss the concept.  I can now see this becoming a cyclical thing as the project develops:

Screenshot 2017-05-17 11.28.19

The second project was a little more complex so we felt we needed to actually talk to people.  We posted a blog asking people to help, we then held a webinar and gathered opinion and this then fed into the project.  The process was quick, easy and effective.  We recorded the webinar and captured all the typed comments too so we could refer back.

Was it worthwhile? In both cases I would wholeheartedly say YES!

On both occasions other people saw things that we had missed.  We received constructive feedback that confirmed our thinking in some places and enhanced it in others.  On one occasion the feedback was the polar opposite to the plan so we listened and adjusted .. and thank goodness we did as this was instrumental to the success of the project.

The value of listening to what other people think is beyond measure however I don’t think we have to stop to do it! Social media is a fantastic resource for garnering opinion, you get a wide range of views in a short space of time in formats that are easily captured for future reference or analysis.  My learning here is yes just get on with it and yes listen to others views but the two things are not necessarily exclusive – we can have our cake and eat it!

cake2

What makes a good blog?

After months of not blogging rather surprisingly @SarahChapman30 tweeted me asking for some advice on blogging.  Luckily she also copied in @AnnieCoops and @ProfJuneG too – who blog in a slightly more organised and less rambling way than myself. The Twitter thread unravelled some great suggestions and you can read it HERE. The conversation got me thinking …. What makes a good blog? Not just for the reader but also for the writer.  Yes blogs need to be readable but they also need to be manageable.  So this is me writing some top tips down on paper … perhaps more for me than anyone else, that way I might actually manage to successfully resuscitate my blog:

wordpress-2173519_1920

Find a platform you like and is easy for you to use – it really doesn’t matter which platform you use but its important that you get on with it, the last thing you want to be doing is getting hot and bothered because you can’t figure out how to post your blog online.  I use WordPress but some simple solutions include LinkedIn, Blogger , Tumblr & even the WeCommunities community blog ( and lots more too!)

apple-1867752_1920

Blog regularly – I subscribe to (and often fail) to the theory that if you blog regularly, even if infrequently, then your readers know when to expect a blog.  In theory it makes sense, sometimes the reality is a little different.  It’s perhaps a good idea to decide how often you want to blog and then double that time period so if you think you can manager weekly blog every other week.

bean

Don’t be hard on yourself – In relation to the above if you don’t manage to blog regularly then don’t be too hard on yourself, the world will keep turning and people will survive

heart-1776746_1920

Blog from the heart – remember this isn’t an academic piece of work, it’s personal, it’s you ! Whatever the subject matter blog about your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

stack-of-books-1001655_1920 (1)

Keep it short … or not – I always aim to keep my blogs short as it makes them easy to read on a mobile phone and as someone with dyslexia the struggle to read large bodies of text is real! However there are times when more needs to be said … so say it, don’t be confined by word count

flash-113275_1920

Experiment – Experiments with styles – try reflections, lists, stories, add in tweets, add in pictures or infographics and in addition to this remember blogs don’t have to be written, try video, audio, or even blogshots.

tweet

Tell people you have blogged – ok so I find this bit difficult, it’s self promotion basically and something that a great many of us are uncomfortable with.  I know I don’t promote my blog posts enough – however I liked @anniecoops suggestion in the Twitter thread linked above … promote for 48 hours.  This feels comfortable for me so I may give it a go

bicycle-1533130_1920Have a few blog posts in the bag – this was @ProfJuneG’s suggestion (again please see the linked Twitter thread above) and something that I had never considered, but it seems to make sense.  If you have time and the inspiration then write away whilst you can and save them for a rainy day.

fountain-pen-1851096_1920 (1)

Make notes – I have a specific note on my phone that is called “Blog ideas” The reason I have this is that I often think  “that will make a good blog” and then totally forget my thought process by the time I get to a laptop.  My phone goes everywhere with me so it’s a good place to jot down thoughts as they come.

post-its-1875512_1920

Subject matter matters – when I first started this blog it was going to be all about social media and nursing, however what I have learnt is that it ok not to be specific and fixed in your subject matter.  Blog about what matters to you at that point in time …don’t put your blog in a box, go with the inspiration.

code

There are no rules – so having come up with a definitive list of top tips the final point is that these are not rules, more like loose guidelines that are open to interpretation and amendment.  Go with what feels right for you, what you can manage and what fits in with your lifestyle.

So, Dear Reader – here’s hoping that this not only helps you to get blogging but also that it helps me to put pen to paper more often.  I am now off to write 6 more blogs so I have them in the bag and to pimp this blog post for the next 48 hours !!

Thank you @SarahChampman30 @ProfJuneG and @AnnieCoops for spurring me into action :D

That will never work !!

I recently asked a question via a Twitter Poll about nurses use of social media:

Screenshot 2017-03-28 15.56.18

The results didn’t surprise me too much but what did surprise me was some of the tweets i received in response to this poll. What most surprised me were the comments made in relation to using social media to communicate with the people we care for, some people were quite adamant that nurses should absolutely not engage with the people we care fro within social media spaces …. I feel that I need to challenge this thinking and ask “why not?”

With more than seven in ten internet users having a social media profile and two thirds of adults, with a profile,  using a social media site more than once a day (OFCOM 2016 ) it could be argued that social media is becoming the default way to communicate.  Particularly when I think of my teenagers social media is such a normal way for them to talk and communicate with others. So why are nurses reticent about using this communication tool to communicate with the people we care for?

The NMC Social Media Guidance does not discount engaging with patients on social media it quite rightly mentions confidentiality and not using social media to build or pursue relationships with patients, which gives us some scope to embrace the power of social media to engage with the people we care for. There are obstacles to overcome – privacy ? – confidentiality ? – do the people we care for want to engage with nurses in this way ? – to name a few … but surely the possibilities are there if we dare to think a little differently? Can we really write off social media as a means of communicating with the people we care for? I’m not sure that we can.

I think that even though there are challenges with communicating in social media spaces as nurses we will overcome them, we will evolve and the technology will evolve to find a way that works… as this is how people want to communicate.

Whilst contemplating this and browsing the internet I came across this rather interesting blog “15 Worst Tech Predictions Of all Time” Documented here are the naysayers, the people who said ‘that won’t work’, and boy did they ever get it wrong … among the worst predictions are:

rotary-691528_1920

1876: “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” – William Orton (President of Western Union) – errrrmmmm the telephone is pretty much the basis for modern communication.  If we look at healthcare alone … how many times do you use the telephone during your working day? What about NHS 111 ? Teleconferencing? Telephone consultations?

mobile-phone-246906_1920

1981: “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” — Marty Cooper, inventor. - just take two seconds to appreciate the proximity of you mobile phone. I bet it’s within hands reach.  Of course without advances in mobile communication community nursing and mobile working would be so much more challenging!

internet-1181586_1920

1995: “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com. - yep!! someone actually said this!! If i have all the time in the world i bet i couldn’t list what the internet has done for health – online journals, NHS Choices, sharing of information, blogs, videos … ahem … SOCIAL MEDIA!!

So in 10 years time when we are tweeting our virtual GP, Facebooking our midwife or have a Instagram outpatients appointment will we look back and say how daft we were to think that we would never be able to communicate with the people we care for through social media? Well I don’t have a crystal ball so I am not entirely sure … however I do know that without exploring the possibilities we will never realise the potential.

Nothing-is-impossible-image-quote

 

 

A challenging week

Challenging practice is perhaps one of the most difficult things that a nurse has to do.  Seeing practice that is harmful or potentially harmful is not only upsetting but also can be very stressful.  Having found myself in a “challenging” situation this week I can testify that it makes you question yourself, your judgement and your motives in all sorts of ways.  Whilst I won’t go in to the in’s and out of my situation it’s suffice to say that I had concerns over some practice and raised them.  It wasn’t easy and took courage and thought .. however I am left reflecting on several things:

The NMC Code clearly states:

“You make sure that patient and public safety is protected. You work within the limits of your competence, exercising your professional ‘duty of candour’ and raising concerns immediately whenever you come across situations that put patients or public safety at risk. You take necessary action to deal with any concerns where appropriate.”

As nurses we must raise concerns immediately whenever we come across situations that put patients at risk and we must take necessary action …. It couldn’t be more easy to understand.  And yet I am not sure that everyone understands that nurses have this professional duty.  Most nurses I have met have an understanding of the code and where their responsibility lies – but the difficultly comes when we work with people who are not nurses.  Do they understand our code as we do? Do they even know what our code contains? Do they understand our professional responsibility? I think the answer to this is, sadly, sometimes no!

Which leaves me with a question …. How do we resolve this?

The fundamental problem is that often until we challenge and raise concerns we are unaware of how others will take this and what their understanding is.  My concerns and challenge to thinking this week was met with shock that anyone would dare to raise concerns and what appeared to be a lack of knowledge that this is what nurses have a duty to do! We have to be that voice that says “what about the safety of the people we care for” we have to stand firm and take the action needed to ensure the care of our patients remains at the heart of all decisions both clinical and financial, but until we actually do this we never know how it will be received.  I understand that it’s human nature that when someone challenges you it can be hard to listen, as it can seem like a criticism, and although we have to take this into account when we challenge, we must not let it confine us.  I think that there is some work to do here in educating others in our code and how it translates into practice and I think that we as nurses should use our code more to help and empower us to do the best by our patients.

Another reflection I have is that what happens when your challenge to practice or approach is taken negatively by the people you challenge? What do you do then? This is when you start to question your own judgement … it’s the “is it just me?” thought process.  This becomes even more difficult if you are challenging upwards, that is to say challenging managers or directors as you can be working against the system.  Raising concerns is not easy.

My last reflective thought is – oh wow its stressful!!! Lots of thoughts spinning through your head, was I right to say something? Am I making a fuss? Why don’t people understand a nurses responsibility? But would I do it differently next time? No I would not.  As someone very wise said to me this week “one day the person you challenged may be sat wishing that they has a nurse to challenge for them” We raise concerns because those in our care can’t – the people we challenge aren’t our primary concern … the people we care for are.

Even though my week has been awful, even though through raising concerns I have put my head well above the parapet I am proud to say that the needs of the people I care for come, and always will come, first.

The Climb !

What sort of music do you like ?

I’m not talking the music you put on when friends come over, or the sort of music you listen to with a loved one …. I’m talking about the music you listen to when no one else is listening ! What do you sing at the top of your voice to in the car ? What music to you listen to via your earphones ?

Me – I like really cheesy music ! I’m talking Wham, Take That and, yes, even Steps !!! (OK maybe not Steps!) I love running to really cheesy music, I love singing along in my car and I love zoning out with my ear phones to some utter cheese.  It was whilst running and listening to some of the aforementioned cheese and reflecting on a twitter conversation about success and failure that Joe McCeldry came on …. The Climb !! Not heard it ?? Here it is:

… no there really is no need to thank me !

It may very well be utter cheese tied up in a cheese string … however the message is fab … keep going, its the climb that matters, keep chasing the dream, keep on going.

When we have ours heads down and are working hard though I think we sometimes forget some essentials – we forget how important it is to have strong foundations, to gather support and to look around when we need inspiration to keep going.  We also forget to take a rest and to take time out to look after ourselves.  In addition to this it’s hard to remember that when we fall, or get things wrong … thats ok … this is sometimes when we learn the most.  It’s ok at these time to stop and reflect and maybe start again on a different path.  Picking ourselves back up can be hard but determination to keep going, keep putting the effort in and keep on climbing is paramount … as is the continued support of others.

And what happens when we get there ? Well in reality we keep on going and we head for the next mountain, the next challenge or even the next cheesy song ….but, my advice is to take time to enjoy the view. Look around, see how far you have come … take time to celebrate and smile.  And above all don’t forget to share your climb with others !

Who’d have thought cheesy music could lead to so much … and there’s more: here’s a rather dodgy load of stick men to illustrate my point ;D

the climb

Getting Political (Big “P”)

Oh my it’s been a while since I last blogged !!! It’s not because I have had nothing to say but rather that so much has been going on that I just haven’t had the time to put  pen to paper.  I thought about perhaps doing another series of Vlogs and then realised that this almost takes as much time as typing as I need to ensure that my hair is in some sort of presentable state …. maybe a series of podcasts is worth considering ?? Anyway … I’m rambling …. let me get to the point :

commonsA few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the Houses Of Parliament for an event that celebrated the Petitions Committee “A Year Of Action” It was a fascinating event and it was really lovely to be joined by Student Nurses Hannah Smith (Salford University) and Julie Woolman (Plymouth University).  The reason we were invited was due to a #WeNurses discussion that was held back in January around the NHS Bursaries, the discussion was held in conjunction with a London South Bank University live debate and we then fed back about the debate and the Twitter discussion at a Houses Of Parliament round table event.  This in turn informed the House Of Commons debate on the NHS Bursaries and we were able to watch this debate live.  The initial discussion came to the forefront because of a petition that was started and although, in the end, the petition did not result in the Government changing the plans to stop the NHS Bursaries but it was interesting to see how nurses can have an impact on what goes on in Westminster.

So what I did learn from the event last week?  I learnt how important it is for nurses to be aware of Politics (although i am talking “big P” Politics here I am not talking party politics, which is perhaps a whole ‘nother blog!) As nurses I think that we need to know how Politics works, how we can influence it, what it takes to be heard and what it takes to make an impact.  Here are some of the specifics I took away from the event:

Firstly - Health is BIG, health is the number one thing that people petition the Government about, take a look at this great diagram below:

screenshot-2016-11-27-21-55-19

Secondly - Most petitions that get rejected are duplicates of other petitions! So it’s important to search the petitions and not reinvent the wheel – tap into what other people are doing

Thirdly - Social media has made a huge impact on petitions … some go viral and reach 100, 000 signatures (the amount of signatures needed for the petition to be considered for a House Of Commons debate) in less than a day!

Fourthly - There are some really wonderful examples of where people have made a difference and have been listened too and action has been taken.  Some of the health related ones include The Meningitis B Vaccine, The Sugary Drinks Tax and Funding For Brain Tumours Research (you can read all about them HERE)

Fithly - Petitions are taken seriously.  The team at the event told us how petitions used to be put into a bag behind the speakers chair in the House of Commons .. hence the phrase “its in the bag!” However the digital age has made the bag so much louder, more visible and transparent.  The Petitions Committee are there to help anyone who petitions.

And lastly – The petitions that have made a difference are those that has persistent people at the heart of them. people who use the petition as a starting point and not and end point, people who keep going and keep campaigning for what they believe in.

The event very much reminded me of one of my most favourite quotes:

never-doubt

As nurses I think that we need to not only believe that we can change the world but also we need to understand how we can change the world …. if we have both belief and understanding then we can make a difference.

Taking time out – Day 13

After a bust early shift I have to admit to not having really looked at any social media today – but during the 5 minutes I have just spent “checking in” this picture caught my eye:

Screenshot 2015-12-13 19.17.52

I think its so important that sometime we switch off and relax both as caring nurses and as tweeting nurses.  There are times when I step away from it all and I spend time reading, baking, walking or just spending some time being me … not Nurse Tree or Tweeting Nurse Tree … so on that note, and as its Sunday .. this nurse is off to have a cuppa and read a good book :D

Dreaming of being a nurse

Last week was the end of the school term and our local school invited parents in for the afternoon to look at their child’s work.  It’s always lovely to see what my daughter has been up to and she takes great pride in showing me every page however this term I have to admit to having a little tear as I turned the page and saw this lovely drawing:

 IMG_8853

Underneath it was written “It’s my hope and dream to become a nurse like my Mummy” To say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement and I found myself searching the depths of my handbag to find a tissue.  My daughter was very proud of this picture, which is in fact her future self taking care of a lady with a broken leg – she also has no feet but that is only because it’s tricky to draw feet when someone is lying down and not due to a medical condition!

Over the week I had some time to reflect on this picture and I started to think, that although humbled by my daughters wish to do what I do would I really ever advise her to become a nurse?

Almost daily there is news of not only healthcare but nursing being in turmoil and nurses struggle on through the toughest of times.  In my own career I no longer keep count of the times that I have cried or returned home from a shift to exhausted even to eat, fallen into bed only to wake up and return to do it all the very next day.  There have been times that I have felt alone and times when I have felt despondent with nursing.  And to top it all the pay that a nurse receives will never make any of us rich …. Yet I feel I am one of the wealthiest and luckiest people I know .. due to nursing!

Only as I have gone through my career have I actually realised how diverse nursing is, as a nurse there are many opportunities and different paths to choose.  In addition to this every day is, in itself, diverse, I have never had two days the same when nursing. .  On my last clinical shift, at the weekend, I was helping an elderly lady to eat her lunch. She really didn’t want to eat anything at all so I said “How about having pudding first?” and she looked at me like the cat that got the cream with eyes full of mischief.  “Oooh” she said “We were never allowed to do that at school!” So almost conspiratorially we started the meal with sticky toffee pudding and custard.  I asked her if she liked school dinners and she told me how awful they were but they had to eat them or sit there until they had. I asked her if she liked school dinner puddings at least and she said that “she didn’t much care for them either!” We then had a wonderful conversation all about semolina, tapioca and rice pudding! There is no doubt that I can recall hundreds (and have forgotten hundreds more) of stories like this, where a small and seemingly insignificant human connection can make a difference.  The chances are if I had not suggested pudding first this frail lady would have missed a meal – as it was she ate everything.  Do I want my daughter to be able to make a difference to people lives like this?

Nursing really is in my soul , those of you who are nurses reading this will know how that feels.  Nursing makes me laugh and cry and through the tough times I hold on to the good times as for every negative there are 20 positives.  Life isn’t perfect and whatever my daughter does my only hope and dream is that she is as wealthy in spirit as I am nursing.

However having said all of that I believe I have neglected to mention that my daughter is only 8 years old and this week wants to be Princess Anna from Frozen (#LetItGo !) when she grows up … which doesn’t sound like a bad career move to me :D

Keeping Up – Infographic

A little while back I wrote a blog called Keeping Up which was all about keeping up during Twitter Chats.  The blog was quite widely shared however, as well all know sometimes a blog is just too many clicks or even too much to read when surfing the world wide web … especially when viewed vis our mobile phones ! In the interests of keeping this information, short, shareable and sociable I have developed a little infographic .

Untitled Infographic (2)

I have to say that infographics are one of my favourite ways of sharing information via social media, they are a fab example of colourful content – content that is useful, engaging and shareable. The world needs less boring un-engaging typed pages (imagine your organisations policy folder!) and lots more infographics – so happy sharing #LongLiveTheInforgraphic :D

Smiling when you Tweet

Before you go any further dear Reader this blog comes with a sparkling and fluffy warning … I happen to like sparkly and fluffy but I know there are many who do not.  If you are a decidedly unsparkly and unfluffy person then I suggest you close your browser right now !

Ok so now we have everyone here who can do sparkly and fluffy we can crack on with this blog post.  This blog post is inspired by a Tweet that I saw out of the corner of my eye this week.  It the split second in which I merely saw it and didn’t read it I thought it was a picture sharing Twitter tips:

Screenshot 2015-07-03 14.51.56

Of course the picture was not tweeting tips but a “Wellbeing Bucket” – which I can only assume is a pictorial representation of things to help with our wellbeing … and its very lovely. (Thank you to @KathEvans2 for sharing it)

It’s pretty easy to see why, at first glance, I thought it was about Twitter – being polite, being kind, sharing, listening, being helpful and including others are all great traits to demonstrate in the Twittersphere.  However it was the inclusion of “smile” that got me thinking … would I also include this? Is smiling relevant on Twitter?

I started to think about all the Twitter users who I really like, the ones who brighten up my day:

egg-680584_1280@kathevans2 (who shared this tweet) was the first person to spring to mind, Kath is definitely a Smiley Tweeter, her tweets are both informative and positive.

@lillybubs was another person who I felt definitely smiles when she tweets, her bubbly and sparkly attitude shines through

Perhaps some not quite so obvious Smiley Tweeters are people like @TrishaTheDoc and @LisaSaysThis – they may not always agree with what you say but their tweets show a kindness of heart just makes me feel that they must smile.

But it’s @Pam007Nelmes who is clearly the best Smiley Tweeter ever, Pam proves that 140 seemingly insignificant characters can do so much good.  I bet my nursing hat and cape that Pam smiles and tweets.

I figure that I am sounding pretty sickly sweet fluffy and sparkly, probably with oodles of glitter on top by now (you were forewarned) so I guess I should explain what I mean by a Smiley Tweeter.  I am not sure I really know myself but I know I am not talking about having an inane grin on you face whilst you check your Twitter stream on the bus, and I know its not merely laughing out loud at the latest cat picture to hit our screens.  Its also not about agreeing with everything that everyone says as Smiley Tweeters can, and do, disagree and challenge thinking.  I think its more about an inherent kindness and compassion, its about caring for others, its about respect for fellow Twitter user no matter who they are, its about sharing and its about being human.  The more and more I think about it the more I know that people who “smile” when they tweet are the people I enjoy being around.

smiley-107068_1280