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Courage for an open culture


Lorraine Kelly was inspired by the 6Cs to set up a nursing initiative that looks after staff as well as patients

You’re on an aeroplane and the oxygen masks cascade from their holders above your head. Your son is next to you, gasping for air. Per the pilot’s instructions, you put on your oxygen mask before helping him because your help would be lost if you couldn’t breathe.

It’s the same with nursing according to Dr Lorraine Kelly, director of nursing at BMI The King’s Oak and Cavell Hospitals. Both hospitals are part of BMI Healthcare, a private hospital provider with 66 hospitals throughout the country. She has been a nurse for 30 years, with experience in the specialty of breast care, and received her PhD in 2010.

“It’s about supporting patients, obviously, but it’s about supporting the staff as well,” Dr Kelly says. “It’s like oxygen on an aeroplane. Unless we look after our staff, they won’t be able to look after patients.”

Dr Kelly says people leave their prized possessions with nurses to be looked after. She isn’t talking about possessions of monetary value, though. She is talking about the people who come in to the hospitals where she works.

“People entrust us with the care of their children, husbands or partners while they go to work,” she says. “And that’s a privilege.”

Trusting the nurses takes courage - something Dr Kelly advocates for in nurses as well.

“For me, the most important C is courage,” she says.

Dr Kelly set up a nursing initiative called “I Love the 6Cs” at BMI The King’s Oak and Cavell Hospitals. It is based on chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings’ 6Cs, which underline the fundamentals of good nursing - care, compassion, courage, competence, communication and commitment.

“We wanted to extend the findings of Jane Cummings’ report into the private sector. She is truly an inspiration to me and I never thought my initiative would take off in the way it has,” she says.

Dr Kelly’s idea spread through BMI businesses and is integrated into the group’s clinical strategy. She uses it as a way to become known by her staff and patients.

She says she likes to talk to patients, and this makes her more approachable for staff as well.

“Every morning, I am in uniform and I do a ward round and I go around and ask patients how their care is, based on the 6Cs,” Dr Kelly says. “I need to be visible because, if I am not, the staff aren’t going to know me and they aren’t going to come and tell me things.”

She says she enjoys the time she spends with patients and, if she feels as if she’s getting bogged down, she goes into the wards to see patients. She likes their feedback and learning what her hospital can do better.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” she says.

Because of the success of the 6Cs initiative, she has developed a strategy based on it for the next three years. She has pulled the six parts of BMI’s strategy in line with each of the 6Cs and set up groups to focus on each part.

“We are trying to call clinical and non-clinical staff together,” Dr Kelly says.

By doing this, the clinical and non-clinical parts of the hospital can focus on improving in all areas. For example, the group centred around engagement has clinical staff members focusing on engagement in medicine and patients, while the non-clinical staff focus on engagement in bookings, hospitality and other duties.

“They had to come up with three objectives that they wanted to achieve this year,” Dr Kelly says. “Then, they report back every month on how they’re getting along.”

She says this strategy, built around the 6Cs, has been implemented in all BMI businesses.

Dr Kelly’s main goal in nursing is to deliver compassionate care from a courageous staff. She wants an open culture in hospitals so nurses will report concerns and everyone can learn from incidents that happen.

“It’s a privilege to be able to look after somebody and, with the business of the day and living in a changing environment, it’s about not forgetting the fundamentals of care,” she says.

“It’s where I get my kicks. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Sara Barba


Readers' comments (5)

  • I wholeheartedly agree with Lorraine's comments about manger visibility and nurses looking after each other. We should be our own advocates and stand up for great nursing . “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” she says. It's hard to be innovative when hard pushed to get through the day but shaking things up a bit can help eliminate some of the drudgery associated with repetitive tasks.

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  • I would like my ward manager to be like
    Dr Kelly. I believe that my job would be easier.

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  • Dr Kelly, I wish you were my boss too! What a superb initiative. The Nhs should roll this out too. Maybe then nurses would feel valued.

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  • Dr Kelly, I wish you were my boss too! What a superb initiative. The Nhs should roll this out too. Maybe then nurses would feel valued.

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  • most certainly not my experience of working briefly for the slave drivers and with their cowered staff in a BMI hospital!

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