Just and Learning Culture - Workforce Development

#BeKind – Working in Unfamiliar Territory

Mersey Care, like every part in the health sector, found itself on an uncharted front line when the Covid-19 pandemic began. Our work on encouraging respect and civility has been vital to help our staff to be more enabled as they face the challenges of delivering care in unique circumstances.
Amanda Oates, Mersey Care's Executive Director of Workforce, told staff: "In this time of extreme pressure and adversity, I'd like to offer you insight, resources and expertise from respected and credible sources.
"This is to support you and your resilience and effectiveness and our collective leadership during these uncertain times, in line with our Just and Learning Culture and our Mersey Care Values."
Continuous improvement, Accountability, Respect, Enthusiasm and Support.
Each week I will share a theme that ties into JLC around leadership, teamworking and personal effectiveness and resilience.
Today I invite you to think about the way we can adapt to working in this unfamiliar territory, transferring our skills, working flexibly and maintaining our wellbeing and confidence.
JLCCircles.jpgFor some, the anxiety in this crisis will be a difficult feeling to work with. It may inspire fear about relationships, loved ones, or work.
This can induce feelings of being overwhelmed or wanting to withdraw to safety. It may impact how capable people see themselves in their role and how they work. Some of our colleagues will have to make decisions or work in a way that challenges their values.
Yet what comes out of this type of anxiety is an ability to overcome obstacles, and triumph – particularly knowing that this is a distinct period of time.
As a leader:
- Share that leaders don’t necessarily have all the answers in these new and rapidly changing circumstances
- Ensure protocols are clear and practices and equipment are explained. If time, give new staff the opportunity to practice using simulation.
- Invite ideas, views and perspectives from the team
As a team member:
- Share ideas and perspectives. Speak up if you don’t understand
For yourself:
- Apply FACE COVID steps (see below) using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to support you to respond effectively to the crisis.
The expert view:
Please click here to watch ‘Perfection is the enemy of the good’, Michael J Ryan from the World Health Organisation speaking on Twitter. He says that if you need to be absolutely right before you move, you will never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management.
An offer for you:
FACE COVID eBook – by Russ Harris
F = Focus on what’s in your control
A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
C = Come back into your body
E = Engage in what you are doing
C = Committed action
O = Opening up
V = Values
I = Identify resources
D = Disinfect & distance


Mersey Care is leading the transformation of care and the creation of a new culture.  There are new policies to support staff in place and there has been a positive shift in expectations. To ensure we share what we have learned, Mersey Care has created a series of free, online training packages which you can access on this page.

Our first two modules are out now and easily viewed online. They are aimed at HR practitioners but are accessible to anyone working with people in organisations. Each module can take 20 minutes to speed through but if you take time to look at the wider resources and videos, do set aside some more time to consider the messages thoroughly. The modules are available with British Sign Language and you can pause them at any point.

Module one: https://www.merseycare.nhs.uk/justandlearning/story_html5.html?lms=1

The first module is designed to assist HR practitioners and anyone supporting people who are keen to deliver high standards with consistency and objectivity. We tell the story of what happened in one NHS trust, Mersey Care. We look at how being a rules based organisation meant there was a lack of awareness of the psychological harm of some HR processes. This led in a number of cases to serious implications for staff working there. The module says how this can damage a whole trust. It asks how can the organisation learn from this. This module then asks whether this is happening in your organisation and what can be done about it? We go into more detail and ask what about bystanders?  Change can be difficult but viewing this session is the start of the journey Mersey Care took. You can take it as well.

In the second module we acknowledge that mistakes can and will happen. We then ask how things not going as expected can affect those HR practices. Does your own HR and patient safety practice support the restorative justice approach? If you take the opportunity to learn there will be benefits to workforce and retention. The module offers several real life scenarios to work through. We consider each example and the effects on staff to reflect on the learning that can come from them. We then look at the wider effects of hurt – the implications for families, the whole organisation and far beyond it.

Module two: https://www.merseycare.nhs.uk/justandlearning2/story_html5.html?lms=1

The third module (coming soon) will then look at how senior leaders and board members must own this process and drive cultural changes so that a just and learning culture can begin to flourish.

You can also learn more about our work with the leading expert in Just Culture. The Trust’s openness was celebrated in 2018 by the respected academic Professor Sidney Dekker. Professor Dekker’s works have become standard texts for organisations across the world who are redefining what accountability means. His powerful and moving film about the challenges faced up to by the Trust and the progress made has been well-received and commended for its boldness in revealing the issues which most other organisations face, but which Mersey Care has been actively addressing.