My youngest son has experienced an eventful academic year thus far, as has every child of school age across Britain and, even, the world. C-19 has not only massively affected lessons but also the full fabric of school life and, of course, social interaction. I have watched him wrestle with anxieties, angst, relationships, successes and frustrations – much of it played out on social media and the inevitable Zoom ‘party’ events. I know that he has struggled at times and I would imagine that people reading this with children of their own will empathise and concur.
It was therefore delightful this week to see that his shoulders were raised a little, his demeanour more confident, a smile once again occupying the lower part of his face.
My gentle questioning over family supper revealed the answer.
“We’re shooting a video at school. We are not allowed to sing together so we are doing Shakin’ Stevens ‘Merry Christmas’ in sign language. It’s going to be broadcast on Parentmail instead of the Christmas Concert.”
Of course, within moments all of us were being taught the various gestures, with varying degrees of success, it must be said. If you’d like to learn how to do it, click here. There you are, you’ve still got a couple of weeks to nail it!
The entire story led me to contemplate how a small idea, action, gesture or example of thoughtfulness can transform a human being. I think that we, too often, we forget the impact that the little things have on our daily lives – positively or negatively. Words can boost and they can drain – and we get the opportunity, every day, to choose which words we use. Select them carefully.
Albert Mehrabian, as managers within Royal Wolverhampton and Walsall Healthcare know well owing to their IHM training workshops last week, looked at the means by which we give and receive information and the emotional ‘like’ that we infer. He came up with 3 numbers:
7, 38, 55
7% of the information that we receive comes solely from the words which are used, 38% from the tone, tenor, tempo and emotion with which they are delivered, and 55% from…. body language. The key is that the messages must be congruent, that is the 3 channels must be consistent. Saying ‘I don’t have a problem with you’ whilst avoiding eye contact and shifting nervously from foot to foot is incongruent, for example.
So, my editorial this week asks you to think about your ‘small stuff’ leadership. Take time to absorb the details of behaviours, actions and outcomes of the people whom you lead. Think about the way in which you respond, acknowledge and recognise them. Consider your vocabulary, body language and emotions. There is never a bad time to take a break, reflect, and improve. I have heard the expression ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and I understand the sentiment, but to my mind, if we are wanting to improve as leaders, the small stuff is always a great place to start. We are all in the business of boosting people’s confidence and ability.
I’ll look forward to watching my son’s sign language version of Merry Christmas and I’ll enjoy the look on the children’s faces, I’m sure. I’ll also raise a glass to the teacher who refused to acknowledge that a small event, in the big scheme of the C-19 response, should be ignored this year. Moreover (and they may never know this) they were responsible for making my son smile. That is a very worthy thing to achieve.
Stay safe, stay strong, and thankyou for the brilliant work you are all doing.
This week Lateral Flow Tests are being made available to care homes, new visiting guidance has been released and there is excitement about the COVID-19 vaccination. All very positive right?
Providers are swamped, new guidance being fired out relentlessly. Leaders and managers are scurrying to make sense of it all – what does it mean for us, how we will manage it, how will we find the staff capacity, how on earth will we pay for all of this? Family carers are desperate to see their loved ones. Some haven’t seen them in person since March, others (myself included) have been lucky enough to see them in person but of course, no physical contact. A few providers have led the way on handholding and hugs visits (nicknaming the tests as a ‘hug in a box’) and the videos will bring tears to your eyes.
It’s vital that providers feel confident and ready to advance visiting in a way that is suitable to the people they provide care and support for. No one size fits all. As long as you start from a position of wanting to support face to face visiting where possible and communicating with family carers regularly. I do struggle with the ‘I won’t allow it’ attitude.
As for the vaccines, they are causing anxiety about consent, capacity assessments and best interests. A document is being produced by DHSC legal advisors to support with that, we’ll share it as soon as we can. In essence though, the person actually administering the vaccine is ultimately responsible, but they will likely ask care providers for support on capacity assessments and best interests.
On the 1st of December, we launched our national campaign #ThanksForCareWorkers at the FAB Thank You Show (if you missed it, I highly recommend you watch it on catch-up, I’m still smiling from it). We’ve teamed up with The Care Workers’ Charity, National Care Forum and Thank and Praise to show how critical care workers are to society and encourage the public to show their appreciation by posting messages on a virtual thanking wall, as well as gaining much needed donations for the Care Workers’ Charity. Please do take a look and share widely.
As ever, thank you for all that you do.
General Manager for Social Care