I am not alone in my belief that there are lots of geniuses in nurses’ uniforms, as I said last week.
This week, the Royal College of Nursing held a dinner in London to reward three nurses for innovative, nurse-led projects.
Chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter told the assembled throng that savings of £20bn across the NHS in the next four years would not be made by recruitment and pay freezes. He said that service redesign was the only way to transform the NHS. And stated frontline nurses were well placed to deliver that.
He was followed by Mat Hunter, chief design officer at the Design Council, who convinced us that the rules of innovation are the same, whether it be a service or a product that’s being designed. The most important rule is that the client, user, guest or patient are at the heart of what you are creating.
He showed us a pretty chilling video of an innovator who was working for a hospital. He lay on the bed filming all he could see. Which wasn’t much - just two glaring strip lights above his bed. But the tape picked up all the noise of the ward, and it was uncomfortable to discover just how unnerving and isolating that hubbub was when you couldn’t see what was causing the sounds.
The nurses set up some mirrors so patients would feel more connected with their surroundings. Pretty obvious stuff but, until you’ve walked in your patients’ shoes, you can’t know what needs to be done. Observation and empathy are vital to making things better.
You don’t just need to know what you have to do - you have to care about it and want to change it for the better. That’s what really makes nurses good innovators.
As one of the finalists, Leanne Cook, told me: “My motivation is seeing the patients get better and become part of society,” adding: “Being at an event like this surrounded by these people when you’re just a coalface nurse is inspiring.”
If you want more details on the three finalists’ achievements, see my blog at nursingtimes.net.