Tuesday, 14 April 2009


I have a good working relationship with folk within our PCT. A few months ago I thought part of our service wasn't good enough and we needed more staff to do the job right. 3 months later and they've given me all the cash I asked for, for 4 more staff and development of the team. Surprisingly, they've given it as recurrent funding, which I reckon's a mistake on their part since new teams and projects tend to be done as a fixed pot of cash to then evidence and evaluate at the end. Still, happy days, it means we can appoint substantively and have more goodly folk join our merry throng.

A Modern Matron was asking me about the team and how having more folk join would affect things, how is it we can ensure that a team functions well? Got me thinking.

Bigger office, for a start. If we've 4 more folk we'll need more room, or people at desks sitting on one another's laps, and whilst a relaxed working environment's laudable I reckon that's taking the notion of "hot desking" one step too far.

Time out to think through how they'll work. Or, less euphemistically, to be guided by the Team Leader and myself on how we wish (or need) things to be. How they deliver it, I'm pretty happy to leave to them. But how the service works, the absence of waiting times, the collaborative work with colleagues, the multidisciplinary input into every case, the letters to GPs generated when the patient's seen, the ethos of support of patients in a least restrictive manner, of advocacy for them, of being relentlessly uncompromising in delivering exceptional care to everyone, all the time.

How do we know when we get there, when the community team is working together well? Part of it's through numbers. Is everyone pulling their weight, with comparable numbers of new patients seen, of follow up visits undertaken, of teaching sessions delivered, of conferences presented, of carer forums facilitated, of night shifts covered, of students allocated. Part of it's through the feedback (which I get a lot of ) from PCT, GPs, care homes, patient/carer forums, families, 360 degree appraisal, Your Opinion Counts forms and so on.

But it boiled down to just a couple of things that highly effective teams seem to have in common. First, there's the coffee. A good team can sort out the tea/coffee money and who makes the drinks (we all do) and who washes up and so on. Got that right and I reckon it's a fantastic correlate with a cohesive and organised team. Second, it's the attitude to one another. Respect that's genuine, so banter can be taken with good humour . . . as well as sorting coffee, in effective teams I've been in we've all been able to tell one another, in good humour, to fuck off, without causing offense.

So there's my plan, for my Modern Matron. Get the new staff appointed, get 'em sorting the tea and coffee with the rest of us, and get 'em confortable speaking their mind with all of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So true you lucky bastard.
I've worked in few teams where barriers are low and enthusiasm is high.
Clinical skill helps - but I find the more confidently a team works then the more efficiently their output. And the workplace environment is a third of our lives.

Of course I've also worked in places where we know who makes the coffee and staff have no problem telling others to "fuck off" - but there may be a slight difference in the context of application.