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In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty provides his update on Just and Learning culture and the latest flu news

I want to begin this week’s blog by discussing issues of staffing and start off with a genuine, heartfelt thank you. Across the divisions, to staff working at all levels – and indeed to friends and stakeholders who I know read this blog as well – I want to show my appreciation for the way we support service users, patients and each other every day. Mersey Care has taken on a huge range of new services and new teams and I know what that means as we welcome new colleagues, learn new systems and also carry on with the day job, getting through inspections and everything else too.

There are a lot of services available for staff – from health and wellbeing to the development sessions. We’ve promoted them in the Staff Hub and the Managers’ Hub and we’ll be improving links for those so you can keep up to speed with what’s on offer for you.

Many of you are getting your free flu jabs and this is one way we as a trust deliver something which benefits you, your patients and also your family and those you come into contact with. Likewise, the NHS Staff Survey means we learn from you for the benefit of the whole organisation. It genuinely is anonymous but the data we get back from it really helps us to shape improvements for years to come. Please make time to fill yours in.

You will, I hope, have heard about our emerging Just and Learning Culture. This is a restorative justice culture, endorsed by the Trust Board and is being led by staff across our organisation. We’ve learned from experts and applied it to our work so we can deliver friendly, caring and accountable care to our service users.

For us at Mersey Care, a Just and Learning Culture can be seen as an environment where we put equal emphasis on accountability and learning. It’s a culture that instinctively asks in the case of an adverse event: "what was responsible, not who is responsible". It’s not finger-pointing and it’s not blame-seeking. That said, a Just and Learning Culture is not the same as an uncritically tolerant environment where anything goes - that would be as inexcusable as a blame culture.

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A few months ago, we welcomed Professor Sidney Dekker, the man who wrote the book on Just Culture, to Mersey Care. He spent time with staff from across the organisation – nurses, wards managers, directors, colleagues at all levels – so he could assess how the Trust is doing.

Sidney told me that a restorative justice culture asks us to give an account of how the event happened and what it meant. And then together we determine how to meet the needs that have arisen.

Following his visit to us and time spent with staff, Sidney was clear that the Trust is well on its way towards this culture. The freedom to speak up is there. He said though that it would not be motivating if nothing actually happens. This week we have a new online resource – a microsite on YourSpace - where you can learn about Just and Learning, read real-life examples from across Mersey Care, and also watch videos and find out who your local ambassador is.

We need to hear from you – use the new site to tell us about how things have changed, or where things have been done differently. This new culture is already making a difference – and it’s for all of us to live it, shape it and make it happen.

Flu news

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This week’s flu figures continue to show impressive progress across the Trust and as of yesterday (Thursday) lunch time, 52.3% of staff had received their flu jab. That is excellent news because it means over half of you have protected yourself, your colleagues and friends and family against this deadly virus.

And finally…

Congratulations to Emad Lilo, the Trust’s Social Care Professional Lead, who was invited to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Work – Children’s Mental Health, and attended yesterday.

It’s a great honour that Mersey Care was represented at such an important forum and represents how highly our work is valued at Government level.