Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 28, 2012

Meeting expectations – Ayrshirehealth reviewed by @dtbarron

Future focused

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Earlier this year I suggested to a few colleagues the idea of setting up Ayrshirehealth, a blog focused loosely around the topic of healthcare – there was no theme or corporate vision to be followed, no underpinning direction that had to be travelled.  This diversity of content and approach would be the strength of the blog, and potentially it’s weakness as it was unlikely to deliver a consistency of style.

So what was the future-focus? What was the change we wanted to be?  In the end it was rather straightforward, there was simply a desire to share knowledge and opinion, to challenge readers, indeed ourselves, on a journey of communicating ‘differently’ i.e. in a blog.

Eleanor Roosevelt ( said “do one thing every day that scares you”, elsewhere she said “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face….. you must do the thing you think you cannot do” – admittedly starting and writing ayrshirehealth blog is hardly the bravest endeavour of mankind.  The ‘why’ of this blog is however something that ‘scares’ me, in trying to challenge the status quo within my own area of ‘we don’t do social media’.  At the point of making the original suggestion there were only a handful of colleagues openly ‘doing social media’ and even then we did it relatively quietly.

I wanted to share why we should be embracing technology, used in new(ish) ways. But why me, why should anyone listen, what made me a leader?

– I might be corrected by a variety of commenters who know more about the subject than I do (of course I might also learn a lot from them as a result).

– Additionally I might also learn more as, through online comments, readers may expand on what I had to say within the blogs.

I wasn’t sure myself that I could actually answer the question of ‘why me?’, so rather than do nothing I recruited a number of interested and erudite colleagues: perhaps Roosevelt would say I took the easy route out.  However Ayrshirehealth was born.

Blog Driver DiagramBeing a nurse I’m not very good at charting progress or measuring outcomes – as a profession we tend to just do things (apologies to all those nurses who are very good in this area, we need more of you).

Taking lessons from our SPSP improvement programme I laid out a driver diagram (thanks to @craigwhitephd & @suzi_hannah for input to this) to explore the ‘why’ of Ayrshirehealth, then set a target for readership – 3000 reads of the blog by 31.12.12, I reckoned we should aim high, after all we had six months to achieve it.

The advantage of the adopting a driver diagram approach over the more traditional SMART objective route is that it draws together a number of building blocks to the process and helps you to focus on WHY, not just how much and by when.

However I also think our objective was SMART in that we knew – how much, by when.

Initially we posted simultaneously on WordPress and Storify, however Storify was dropped in July as it lacked utility for this purpose.


Ayrshirehealth stats to Dec 2012We’ve published 37 blogs since June, engaging an international readership across 65 countries where the blog has been read just under make that just over 6000 times (changed since first draft of this blog). Ok, I know that for some countries, someone has read the blog only once, but it proves that it wasn’t me reading the blog 6000 times: unless of course I was clocking up substantial air-miles.

It is indisputable that we have offered opinion, have shared knowledge and have challenged thinking.

So what?

From my perspective it’s been an enjoyable journey so far, no-one has missed their deadline for submission (although 23:50 on deadline night is cutting it fine).

We’ve engaged local colleagues in writing and reading the blog; it’s been talked about and referred to as a source of opinion, we’ve had blogs from patients, a patient organisation and from several national colleagues bringing a guest perspective to our thoughts and challenges: many thanks to each of them and to each of our Ayrshire bloggers – without whom there would be no blogs.

Thank you to everyone who has read the blog, those who have ‘liked’ it, those of you who have come back again and those who have left comments: we appreciate everyone’s contribution and support – without you there would be little point to the blogs.


Perhaps as 2012 draws to a close its time to refresh our vision for the blog, to set new and challenging targets for what we want to achieve – or may we’ll just keep on doing it because we enjoy it.

BTW – the blog is also available through

@dtbarron is an Associate Nurse Director, Mental Health Services in NHS Ayrshire & Arran (@nhsaaa) and Chair of the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland. Info at:

Next week @fionacmcqueen blogs for the first time on Ayrshirehealth.


  1. the blog has been an innovative way to learn more about what people are thinking which furthers others’ thoughts on some complex isues. Well done @dtbarron

    • Thank you for your feedback Fiona – its fairly easy when your role is to harness the talent, not be the talent: the bloggers made it an enjoyable task.

  2. I love the idea that a collection of people blog and contribute and I have read many (but perhaps not all) of the blogs. I too have set out on a blogging journey this year and I have learnt much about both myself and how to engage with Social Media. I wish you all a very Happy and Successful blogging 2013 – let the New Year begin!

    • Thank you Annie – like you I’ve read some of your blogs, but not all. There again your obviously braver than me as you’re the author and administrator of your blogs. I’m looking forward to reading more in 2013: happy new year when it comes. Derek

  3. […] Meeting expectations – Ayrshirehealth reviewed by Derek Barron on the  Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  4. […] posts, used the end of the year to reflect on the first six months of the blog that he set up: Meeting expectations – Ayrshirehealth reviewed. I was a little nervous when we first started to get Ayrshire Health posts that I would not be up […]

  5. One of the things I like about this blog is that it pushes boundaries and challenges. And everything should be challenged once in a while otherwise best practice won’t become better practice.

    The fact that there is no theme or corporate vision to be followed, no underpinning direction will be its strength. I’m on that journey myself with a collaborative blog based on public sector organisations and the need to be more sociable as times get harder; for service users and staff alike.

    So I can share that feeling of being a little scared as to how it will pan out. But good for you for doing it, great vision and actually not being scared to take that risk.

    Similarly, the strength is that it is not seen as corporate. People don’t want to be ‘friends’ with corporates, and sometimes corporate accounts are seen as broadcast, when it is conversation and discussion that is needed.

    I hope this blog goes from strength to strength. I feel it will and be a place for people to learn and express themselves, giving vital feedback for service improvement.

    • Thanks Phil it’s been an enjoyable journey, from not knowing if it would work to now getting people offering blogs. One of the reasons I started my own blog was I couldn’t get space on ayrshirehealth – ironic, but rather delightful as well. Derek

  6. Derek

    Just catching up with this and very interesting to the Alliance given some work we are likely to be involved in. Would be worth while having a doscussion at some point.

    Best Wishes


    • Thanks Ian – I’ve emailed you re meeting up. Derek

  7. […] the December 28th blog Meeting expectations – Ayrshirehealth reviewed I gave a snapshot review of the blog.  I thought I’d share a little more detail in this […]

  8. […] June 2012 the ‘target’ was to have the blogs viewed 3000 times by December (six months) – extrapolating that to the […]

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