In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty's latest update on Mersey Care

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” – Maya Angelou

After writing last week about the way we are tackling the austerity cuts by using our surplus to look at other ways of working, it brought to mind how, quite often, it is the little things that make all the difference to the way an organisation or team can work.

While other trusts are struggling to cope and have built up major deficits, we have made a determined push to stretch the tax pound further while keeping service users, patients and carers at the forefront of everything we do. Without making care and respect for them our biggest priority, we would become just another business trying to make a profit in difficult financial times.

That brought to mind one of my all time favourite quotes from Maya Angelou, the famous American poet and civil rights activist, which begins this blog. It neatly sums up everything that we are about here at Mersey Care. Caring for some of the most vulnerable and unpredictable patients is not straightforward and everyone in this trust will know that no one day is like any other.

Yet we should all be proud that, as an organisation, we are committed to recovery and to caring for some of the most vulnerable members of society. As Maya Angelou wrote, our patients will know how Mersey Care “made them feel,” which is a credit to everyone who has helped a patient out of our services and towards a life free of mental health issues.

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That was never better illustrated than during the recent BBC film on recovery at Ashworth High Secure Hospital. You could see how pleased the staff were that Ashley, a former patient, was doing well when he returned to act as a guide for the programme. You can access the film here if you have not had a chance to view it yet.

Small Improvements

Looking at Ashley and his successful journey from Ashworth to establishing a new life for himself outside mental health services, it struck me that it is the little things that often make the biggest difference. I don’t know every detail of Ashley’s story but I’d like to wager that many of the staff he encountered on the way probably went the extra mile to help him on his way.

That is often the way in big organisations. It’s not the initiative that costs thousands of pounds that makes the big difference, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact. The picture below illustrates just 10 things that can be done which will make an impact that cost the individual and the organisation nothing.

None of the examples listed need extra training or more money ploughed into the service yet they are the little things that matter so much to organisations if they are to succeed.

I know many of you reading this blog are football fans and there are another couple of examples I read about recently which underline how little things can contribute to a big impact. The first story involved Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who apparently worked his squad so hard in pre-season that they all collapsed with many of the players gasping for air. He asked them if they could do one more shuttle run if he said the Premier League title depended on it and the whole squad got up and did one more run.

Now I’m all in favour of us all leading healthier lifestyles, but I’m not about to ask you all to go for one more shuttle run. What this illustrates, however, is that often when we feel we can’t give any more, one final push can earn great rewards.

The other example I read was from the highly-rated and successful Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. He has a reputation for trying to make drastic changes to style of play and the way players go about their business, but I read that he has told his squad that all he wants from each of them is just 1% improvement. Added together, all those little improvements make a big difference to a team and equally to an organisation.

That is what we are trying to achieve here at Mersey Care. We will spend money improving staffing or on estates when it is necessary, but we are also looking for those little differences that can make such a massive improvement to our services and ultimately, to the way we make our service users, patients and carers feel.