China cups and therapy dogs with a dash of teal

China cups and therapy dogs with a dash of teal

What do china cups, therapy dogs and self-managing teams have in common? Well, quite a bit it turns out…

It all began at an Improvement Academy Fellows event some months back where consultant physician Dr Rod Kersh and I had a serendipitous conversation about self-managing teams in healthcare based on a model known as Teal. In his presentation humanity above bureaucracy you can watch Jos de Blok describe how in 2007 he set up a new model of nursing in the Netherlands led by practitioners and co-produced with patients:

Back in Doncaster, Rod and his team run a ward for older people with acute medical needs and dementia type illnesses. Their practice is informed by the principles of Teal and grounded in compassion and empathy.  On his ward it’s the small thing that count – such as the this is me information sheets that are part of the medical record, and the photos of staff on the wall accompanied by a this is what people like about me mini-biography.

But sometimes it’s the apparently small stuff that can be the toughest to resolve. Rod has been engaged in a valiant battle to replace standard hospital issue plastic cups with china tea cups on his ward. You can read his blog about it here in which he describes the importance of the everyday in engendering humanity:

“Person-centred care, where we remember that the patient is a person and, that person is the reason for the existence of the hospital, and our work, where we need to sometimes check ourselves when we slip into modes of process and performance; here the cups come into their own.”

So Bibi had her first outing as a Pets as Therapy dog to Rod’s ward and even got to drink out of a china tea cup
(disclaimer – it was not a hospital cup for any infection control nurses reading this). We sat with a group of patients in the day room and Bibi got to be be stroked and fussed and we chatted dog breeds and Crufts and 1950s kitchens.

IMG_0049And I got to thinking about how the small things matter. Amongst the china cups and the conversation there wasn’t an obvious role for digital technologies. But my visit to the ward reinforced to me that when digital can enhance humanity and when it is part of a person’s journey through a service that affords dignity, compassion and empathy – that’s when it really counts for something.

Thank you Rod and the team for having Bibi and I on your ward today – it was ace 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. Great work, everyone needs positive strokes and I’m sure Bibi was a welcome distraction from routine….



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