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29 April 2013
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Healthcare is a team sport!

October 2012.  Manchester.  The FMLM Conference.  How could I translate so many zingy ideas from great speakers into real working life for my team in Bristol?

November 2012.  Thirty members of our University General Practice gathered for our annual meeting wondering what efficiency drive we would be embarking on now?  But no!  This time I spoke to them inspired by the words and ideas from Manchester. “Team wellbeing”…

As a leader I wanted to focus on my colleagues.  I believed that three things would happen:

  1. If we look after the team;
  2. They will look after the patients;
  3. Everyone will benefit; leading to better outcomes, better morale, and better health for all!

We talked about why it mattered if we were happy at work, why did their wellbeing matter?  We looked at the evidence that tells us that showing kindness produces oxytocin, the happy hormone.  What patients want most is respect and dignity, so if we also show them kindness we are all better off.

We also looked at who in the team could influence the patient experience and saw that the frontline admin staff played a vital role in having a positive impact on patient experience.  That they do complex and emotional work  and this should be recognised.

Everyone was fascinated and inspired by the fact that looking after others is scientifically proven to be good for your own health, and that working in a happy and stimulating environment will keep your mind active and fight off cognitive decline.

They liked the fact that as their leader I recognised that “employee engagement was the most important predictor of good outcomes for an organisation”, i.e. it’s all about the team’s wellbeing and ‘buy in’.

So they decided to create a Happiness Team; four members, a receptionist, a nurse and two doctors who would do things to make everyday working life better.  So far they have baked cakes, deep cleaned the coffee room, organised charity fund raising, and they have a host of ideas for making the practice a fun place to work.  They feel, as do the rest of the team, that it’s been a genuinely positive example of ideas translating into actions for looking after the whole team!  It’s simple but it works!

Dr Dominique Thompson, Director of Service at University of Bristol

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