22 April 2021
Talking Health Leadership Conference

Sophie Buck and Niamh Ingram

Last month we attended the ‘Talking Health Leadership’ conference aimed at the, often left behind, middle managers in healthcare. This fantastic event was attended by 120 delegates from 11 different NHS organisations. The initiative was established by an experienced NHS Director of Operations and the day comprised of an array of keynote speakers, a chance to network with peers, interactive practical sessions and even included a dance break…

Here’s our take on the top themes from the conference…

Thin Slices of Joy

After the initial virtual icebreakers, we were presented with the dynamic, vibrant GP and Deputy Director at NHS Practitioner Health that is Dr. Helen Garr for her session “Go to Rome”. Whilst this sounded like a one way ticket to Italy, it was instead a valuable insight into the importance of wellbeing and the power of mindfulness.

Helen focused on the concepts “thin slices of joy” and “exercise snacking”. For us, this translated to taking those small moments that happen every day that bring a sense of comfort, relief and happiness to your life and really taking the time to appreciate them. This could be anything from hearing your favourite song on your way into work, a colleague taking the time to pop in and say hello at some point during the day or having your partner make you a cup of tea as you tuck into another episode of that series you can’t help but binge.  

In a COVID world where things are harder than ever both personally and professionally, Helen’s talk provided a useful reminder that we are more than our jobs; as employees, we are replaceable, but as sons and daughters, as mothers, fathers, as brothers, sisters and as friends we are not. By taking the time to focus on our own wellbeing, we are not only better colleagues, but we perform better at work and are all round better people to be around, especially for those in our lives to whom we are not replaceable.

Values Based Goal Setting

The second part of the day involved a talk from the host of the BBC podcast “Don’t tell me the score”, Simon Mundie, who focused on the importance of values-based goal setting and the power of language.

As healthcare professionals, the topic of values-based goal setting resonated strongly as the achievement of high-quality patient care in the healthcare environment can only be attained through an approach that has the core values of compassion, kindness and teamwork at its heart. Whilst goals may not be met, the values that individuals, teams and organisations pride themselves on provide guidance to live by every day. As a result, we have a renewed sense that, if we can stay true to our values throughout our careers within the NHS, we will have achieved so much more than we ever set out to.

The Language of Kindness

The second prominent point from Simon was the power of both self-talk and of the language that we use with others. With practical tips like using the word ‘want’ instead of ‘must’ or using the word ‘uncomfortable’ instead of ‘can’t stand’, Simon’s honing in on language reminded us just how impactful we can be when we use our words correctly. We must try to understand the impact not only of the way we talk to others, but equally, of the way that we talk to ourselves by not taking all our thoughts as fact.

When it comes to that little voice inside of our heads, the voice that quite often says you can’t when deep down you know you can, the messages from both Helen and Simon reminded us not only to treat others how we want to be treated but to treat ourselves how we want others to be treated.

As aspiring healthcare leaders, the conference allowed us the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues, hear from external key-note speakers that we may not have had the opportunity to learn from otherwise and, most importantly, served as a reminder that mental health and wellbeing should be a priority for us all. We must be kind to one another as well as ourselves.

We look forward to the upcoming conference in Autumn 2021 and hope there will also be an opportunity for a dance break then…

By Sophie Buck and Niamh Ingram.

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