Posted by: ayrshirehealth | December 23, 2015

The week before Christmas by @jasonleitch

Five career lessons

It’s official: Christmas is here.  The Strictly Come Dancing final has been and gone, the Coca Cola advert has appeared on the TV. IHI Ah ha momentsAnd once again, I find myself writing to you on my return from a remarkable and inspiring week at the 27th Annual Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care.

This was the last Forum for Maureen Bisognano, retiring Chief Executive of IHI, and during her keynote, she left us with five lessons she has learnt from her career:

How we improve:

We need to think about new ways to collaborate with others and our new partners.

This is particularly pertinent for us here in Scotland as we work towards next year’s milestone of 1st April 2016 when all  Integration Joint Boards will be fully functional.  How can we ensure that each and every person in an organisation is working with quality improvement as part of their day to day job?

How we hear:

What matters to youWe must begin actually listening to the voice of the patient and wondering “What matters to you?” rather than just “What’s the matter?”

A proud moment for Scotland, as Maureen went on to tell the 5,000+ delegates about the “What Matters To Me” work that Scotland is rapidly becoming famous for.

How we teach, learn and see:

We must adapt to new roles as part of the care team, and offer care in new and unusual places.

We all know that being a skilled practitioner just isn’t enough  – clinicians need to move from being the diagnosers and treaters  to being guides who work alongside patients to guide them through the system. There are no longer captains of teams anymore, she believes, and we need to start encouraging that approach with students from across the healthcare professions, at an early age.

How we care:

Think about different ways to address the health and well-being of patients.

People providing healthcare need to think of themselves as “upstreamists” who head off health care problems before they snowball into chronic diseases down the line. This is something that we’re working on in Scotland already in some areas with the Early Years Collaborative, and the work of Sir Harry Burns on the social determinants of health.  Maureen told a brilliant story of how postal workers are being used to extend the health care and check on the frail elderly, delivering prescriptions and appointment reminders.

How we lead:

In days past, it may have been OK for leaders to simply “fix and forget” problems that arise. 

maureen bisognanoHowever, today we realise that we should be leading with a “see, solve and share” approach. Maureen suggests that good leaders should look to others for support and guidance; and concluded that a high “curiosity quotient,” rather than IQ, is one of the most important traits of a strong leader.

These five gems of insight might all seem a little abstract as part of a conference plenary being delivered to 5,000 delegates from around the world, but today, on my first day back after the Forum, I had the privilege to experience all five of these lessons being addressed at Langlee Early Years Centre in Galashiels.

Early Years Centre – Langlee

Langlee EYCThe team there runs an integrated hub service embedded in Langlee Primary School. Their aim is to provide an open door, all year round service for families of young children to drop in for advice and support and to join a range of activities –  healthy pregnancies, cooking and healthy eating, welfare and benefits advice, parenting support, play and literacy skills – for both parents and children.

And they’re a great team running a great service – using improvement methodologies, listening to and empowering families and solving problems creatively.

They told me that one of the most important thing for families was that they could trust the centre staff.

Langlee EYC StaffAnd right then, right there, one of their most vulnerable mothers dropped in with the best  news EVER….

This young girl had previously been in an abusive relationship. She’d been living on £115 a fortnight, looking after her two children aged two and 2 months. Despite their breakup, her ex-partner had been letting himself into her flat and stealing her things.

The team at Langlee had arranged to have her locks changed to keep her and the children safe, and had worked with the Department of Work & Pensions to sort out her finances.  The reason this young girl had dropped into the Centre was to tell the team that she had just received a cheque for £1100 in backdated Benefits payments…..

…. the week before Christmas.

Now THAT is a Christmas present. I can honestly say there was hardly a dry eye in the place…

Whilst Langlee Early Years Centre is a fantastic service, it is not unique in its ability to make people’s lives better.  There are thousands of you in comunities all across Scotland who are making an actual difference.  Some of you work directly with people and their families and carers. Some of you are one step away in supporting roles. But each and every one of you deserves recognition for the positive impact that you have on people’s lives.

On behalf of all of us here at Scottish Government, thank you. And have a very Happy Christmas!

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


  1. Now that’s a lovely story to finish up for Christmas with. Well done Langlee Early Years Centre and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours Jason

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