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A day in the life of an assistant director of nursing

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Through his work to improve the patient experience Paul Jebb is also empowering nurses

Paul Jebb says his biggest ambition is to raise the profile of nursing as a profession - and particularly at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

The assistant chief nurse for patient experience at the trust knows how hard it is to attract nurses to the coastal town but is adamant that, once there, they will find a wealth of innovation and some fantastic career opportunities.

“I want our staff to be proud of working here, and happy staff make happy patients,” he says.

And there is plenty to be happy about, despite it being one of the 14 “Keogh trusts”. It certainly didn’t get one of the worst reports from Keogh and, in fact, there is proof that safety is a priority at the trust. Blackpool Teaching Hospitals has scooped three Patient Safety Awards over 2011 and 2012, a Care Integration Award in both 2012 and 2013, and is a frequent finalist in the Nursing Times Awards, which it won last year.

Mr Jebb explains its triumphs and innovative approach as partly down to its commitment to measuring patient feedback in real time and making improvements - c0nstantly.

“If we get things wrong, people always remember us, but if we get things right, people never forget us,” he explains.

He says he is most proud of improving the patient experience - doing the little things that count, like smiling at a patient or chatting while getting them a cup of tea and a biscuit. And this approach - with a commitment that every staff member can make a difference - is part of the trust’s new training initiative. Known as the Patient Experience Revolution, it enforces positive actions and behaviour on the wards and in the workplace.

As well as sending all staff members on this training, Mr Jebb’s drive is to ensure that they all understand the qualitative and quantitative aspects of feedback. But, he says, it must be about more than just the national patient experience audit.

“In the national survey, we survey patients in May, June and July, get the results in February and our marker in April so people always say

the data is out of date by the time we get it. I am changing things to get real-time data

in our local surveys rather than a temperature check once a year.”

He is working on getting monthly data. The trust’s Knowing How We Are

Doing boards, visible to staff and patients and placed in every ward of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, provide accurate accessible information on pressure ulcers, infection and falls as well as a range of other nursing indicators.

The boards won a Patient Safety Award in 2012, and Mr Jebb believes their success lies in having empowered nursing staff to understand the importance of what they are doing and take ownership of their achievements.

Pride has motivated him since he became a student. He was elected as chair of the Royal College of Nursing Association of Nursing Students (as it was known then) in his second year of training after being energised by the political debate at his first-ever RCN Congress.

“I have always enjoyed leadership roles,” he says. “It’s a natural skill I have I think. I was overwhelmed when I walked into the RCN headquarters at Cavendish Square and saw the pictures of famous nurses all around the walls and met some amazing chief nurses - but I learnt more about leadership and the political agenda in those two years as chair than I could ever have done in a classroom.”

It’s that leadership that he believes can make a difference to Blackpool and to the profession as a whole.

He sighs as he thinks about how much is imposed on nursing - nationally and locally - and says that even in the 17 years since he qualified, the profession has relinquished its power, accepting what is suggested to it instead of making the changes itself in many cases.

“My biggest frustration is that nurses seem to have lost their way,” he says. “We need to remember our sense of purpose and reground ourselves. We have to remember why we came to nursing - to care.”

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