Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 24, 2014

All I want for Christmas is… by @jasonleitch

Christmas themeA letter to Santa

Well, at the time of writing this, we’ve got seven sleeps left until the big day, and I am pondering which particular Christmas theme I should be writing about here…

“Babies born in inn-keepers’ stables – an infection risk?” or perhaps

“Do mince pies count as one of your five-a-day?”

In reality, with only a week to go, it’s the pressure of Christmas shopping that’s foremost in my mind. I wrote to Santa a while back with my Christmas List (to give him plenty time to prepare) and this is what it said:

Dear Santa,

For Christmas 2014, I’m wishing for:Christmas gifts

  1. An iPhone 6. I am officially an early adopter of just about anything Apple, and frankly, it’s bringing me out in a cold sweat that the iPhone 6 has been on release for 4 months now and I haven’t managed to get hold of one. Please?? I’m starting to feel like a laggard here…
  1. A box set of House of Cards. I am reliably informed that this will help to teach me all about politics and ambition. Really.To rise again
  1. A copy of “To Rise Again at Decent Hour” by Joshua Ferris. Mainly because I feel an affinity with the guy – he’s a dentist who is also a huge Red Sox fan. Oh, and apparently he’s totally dependent on his phone (?!)

What I’d really like.

But to be honest, that’s all just here and now stuff. What I’d really really like are two things for the people of Scotland. Two things that will help all of us working in NHS Scotland to listen to and understand those we care for.

  1. What Matters to Me to be everywhere across Scotland in 2015. I have been inspired and touched by the brilliant work that has been going on in so many inpatient settings with What Matters to Me – when staff work with patients to create a poster or a visual display that shows what is important to them. I heard a wonderful story about Barbara, aged 92, who was admitted to the Care of Older People ward at the Southern General Hospital. barbaraAt the time, staff thought they knew her background…they knew she lived alone, was partially sighted, was mobile with a zimmer, had home care four times a day. They knew she required further physiotherapy and an cccupational therapy home assessment prior to discharge.

She was very quiet, almost reclusive, and staff were having difficulties communicating with her until they did a What Matters to Me poster with her. And then they really found out about Barbara. What a lady!

Suddenly, Barbara was able to talk about her life and became brighter and happier. Staff in the ward said: “I started to see the person not the patient” and “I was sceptical at first, I thought I knew my patients, but I was wrong”.

If we are to ensure that our NHS truly focusses on patients, we must listen and ensure that we give people the means for their voices to be heard. Which brings me onto my Christmas List wish number 5…

  1. I wish for a simple and open way for patients and their families to tell us about their experiences. This would enable us to really, truly hear what our patients think, and what we can do to make things better for them. I met a remarkable lady a few months back – her name is Jerilyn Crain.

jerilynPart of the healing journey

Jerilyn was diagnosed in 2002 with very aggressive breast cancer. She was being treated by Kaiser Permanente, which provides a shuttle bus to transport patients to and from hospital for their cancer treatment. Jerilyn and many of her fellow patients began to dread having to ride this bus, and everything it stood for – and so she decided to turn the situation on its head and to make the shuttle bus a ‘party bus’.

Jerilyn and her fellow passengers began to celebrate everything from birthdays to festivals, new people joining, some people leaving. When I say celebrate, I do mean CELEBRATE… balloons, streamers, cake, music, the works. Every day was a reason to be joyful – I am sure you can imagine how this changed the lives of all of those riding that bus.

It became part of a healing journey.

Transformation and the patient advisor

Kaiser Permanente recognised the transformation that Jerilyn had triggered, and asked her to become a patient advisor, a mentor for their Breast Friends service and to be a member of the Kaiser National Nursing Leadership Council. She has a hands on role as a past patient in designing and influencing services for future patients.

NHS Scotland logoSo, my final wish this Christmas is that we in NHS Scotland find an innovative and meaningful way of hearing from patients and their families through the new work of the Stronger Voice project. People’s lived experience is an incredibly valuable resource to us – our patients and their families are the experts, and it is vital that we give them the opportunity to help us to deliver better health services across Scotland.

Thank you Santa. I appreciate that this is quite a list – but if I can only get one thing, please make it the iPhone 6.


Happy Christmas to you all.

This week’s blog was by @jasonleitch (Jason Leith), Clinical Director, The Quality Unit, Scottish Government | Institute for Healthcare Improvement Fellow.


  1. Jason, an inspiring blog to help us reach to everybody we care for. You’ve highlighted areas where it works – so we can do it- we just now need to make it happen.
    Best wishes

  2. Always an inspiration Jason… it has been great sharing the improvement journey with you. We have done some much and yet have so much more to do… thank God time is one resource we have plenty of 🙂 and enthusiam is also on permanent tap!

    Oh by the way…have you not heard th eiphone 7 is due out in the New Year!

  3. Yes, very inspiring indeed.

    I recently started a role involving patient feedback and although I was already a convert to the benefits of truly listening and acting on that information, I gather more evidence to support the importance if it on almost a daily basis.

    My wish (albeit late) would be to wave a magic wand to make sure everyone wants to Listen too.

    p.s. I thought it was a satsuma we got at Christmas in our stocking not an apple, I need to keep up with the times. (sorry I am an android fan).
    Did you get your apple?

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