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We are listening to staff

Update from NHS Lanarkshire

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About: NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Paul Graham


For me the most important, and often neglected, part of the Scottish Government’s Person-Centred Quality Ambition is around the staff experience.

Yes, patients, their relatives and carers are at the heart of all that we do, and are a top concern, but the people who ensure the Health Service is delivered are our colleagues. Without them, their skills, their experience, their professionalism and their willingness to go the extra mile for others means we don’t have a Health Service! I am even more convinced that if we focus on supporting and nurturing colleagues to grow as resilient reflective practitioners then patients and carers will be the natural beneficiaries.

It’s Christmas, and among the key messages of this festive time are those of generosity, hope and restoration. It’s also a time of the year many of us take a look back and, as well as thinking “How the heck did it get to December so quickly!”, we reflect on what went well and what could have been better.

I want to share some ‘what went wells’ that speak about how I see those themes of generosity, hope and restoration at play in our work.


One of the most notable aspects of 2017 for me was the chance to work alongside teams in various settings who were looking for ways to grow trust and build resilience, not just as an aim in itself, but because they recognised that if they were ‘running on empty’ that they would eventually burn out.

When talking about ways to support this work, one of my friends told me to watch a Ted talk on Youtube by Brene Brown, an American researcher.

Here are a couple of quotes that I think capture the daily generosity of colleagues across health and social care. Brene encourages us to ‘Dare Greatly’ and she gives a definition of this as “having the courage to be vulnerable, to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, to have the hard conversations.”

She then says “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” And our colleagues do this daily.


Recently I had the privilege of visiting colleagues from Dumfries and Galloway at their new hospital in Dumfries. The way that the design of the building brings in natural light and shows the surrounding countryside is truly uplifting. It reminded me of the quote that “our hospitals should not be merely biological garages but places of healing and hope.”

Congratulations to our colleagues in NHS D&G for co-producing a model for health and social care that is a game changer. Definitely a place to visit in 2018.


Values-based Reflective Practice (VBRP®) offers a number of practical tools which help us (re)connect with our core values and motivations; enhance our person-centred practice; deepen our relationships with colleagues and develop our resilience and well-being at work.

When teaching VBRP I see colleagues get back in touch with their own values, their stories and often their desire to make a difference. When we share our practice with each other, and reflect on it in a way that is safe, non-judgemental and supportive, a number of things happen. Usually, we hear that we’re not the only one to feel or think this way; we grow in respect and admiration for our colleagues who press on through the doubt, fear, or hurt to deliver the best possible care; and we see colleagues be affirmed by their peers. We witness people being restored and replenished, ready to go back into the arena and give themselves generously for others.

I was moved by a beautiful quote I heard recently from a member of staff: “my colleague trusted me into trusting myself”.

And finally, here’s the Christmas message bit...

An essential on our family Christmas playlist is Celine Dion singing ‘O Holy Night’. I love the line that says

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...”

My hope is that all of our colleagues get some time over this Christmas to look back on 2017 and see in their work and their colleagues a ‘thrill of hope’ (however small) that will make even the weary rejoice...and that all of us have a peaceful and special year ahead in the new morn of 2018.

Keep on Daring Greatly!

Response from Shaun Maher, Strategic Advisor, Person-Centred Team, Scottish Government on

Thanks Paul. 

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