Developing ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders’ in diabetes care – by Suraiya Chowdhury

Suraiya Chowdhury

When you get passionate, dedicated health care professionals and give them time, space and support – hey presto, changes begin to happen!

In 2017, there were three fantastic cohorts of Tomorrow’s Leaders – our leadership training programme for diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) and dietitians.

With increasingly limited resources in the NHS, DSNs and dietitians are struggling to access training opportunities. They are increasingly expected to lead service improvement but often do not feel that they have the skills they need.  We aimed to give them the skills and confidence to lead improvements in diabetes care, and to deal with the mounting pressures they are facing.

As a result, we teamed up with TREND UK and the Leicester Diabetes Centre and developed this 24 hour ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders’ programme, with a half day follow up two months later.

Currently in its third year, more than 130 nurses and dietitians from across the UK have attended the course. It includes sessions on:

  • the current state of the NHS
  • effective communication
  • sources of power and tackling the challenges faced when delivering service improvements.

Participants then work with a coach to develop an action plan and an ‘elevator pitch’ to support this plan. The follow up day is an opportunity for reflection and looking at progress on action plans and includes workshops on emotional resilience, and meeting facilitation.

With support from Novo Nordisk, we were able to run the programme three times in 2017 with a total of 57 participants, and we were heavily oversubscribed each time.

Does it work?

Training is helping nurses and dietitians make changes

Our fantastic Tomorrow’s Leaders have gone away and made improvements in diabetes care through successfully making diabetes education compulsory across their Trust, implementing education programmes for their primary colleagues, introducing transition services, and so much more. These are only a few of the examples of the fantastic achievements of the DSNs and dietitians who attended the programme this year.

“This course has given me the time to focus on what I want to work on and how to go about it. The Follow Up session today has reignited my motivation and channel it in a new direction with an approach to a longstanding issue, which is totally different.”

One particular participant was so motivated, she started working on her plan as soon as she was on the train home – securing free meals for a young people’s education programme from the local Nando’s.

Our fantastic Tomorrow’s Leaders have gone away and made improvements in diabetes care through successfully making diabetes education compulsory across their Trust, implementing education programmes for their primary colleagues, introducing transition services, and so much more. These are only a few of the examples of the fantastic achievements of the DSNs and dietitians who attended the programme this year.

Feedback from participants over the year have indicated better leadership, more cohesive team working and improved engagements within multidisciplinary teams, leading to better services for people living with diabetes.

Achievements in a nutshell

In post-it notes, pictured from a recent training session, nurses and dietitians noted how the training had helped them professionally and what they were most proud of:

  • Diabetes training mandatory in trust
  • Questionnaires to families to develop diabetes service
  • Revised programme of diabetes education for 2018
  • Nursing Time award nomination
  • Leading on and focus with change
  • Approval of business plan for transition service
  • Being listened to
  • Engaged key team member using elevator pitch
  • Enthusiasm
  • More confidence to speak out
  • Getting engagement
  • Approaching diabetes service leads with my ideas
  • Maintaining my motivation and vision
  • Getting engagement
  • Making a start
  • Resource development
  • Getting started with plan – gaining interest
  • Facilitating others’ development
  • Piloted 60 education sheets

The ‘work’ in ‘network’

Nurses and dietitians get a chance to share their experiences

An important part of the programme is also to facilitate peer learning and provide a platform to share best practice. Comments from participants show that they really value this opportunity to learn from other colleagues and find out more about what is happening elsewhere.

“I found this course informative and motivational. I am a paediatric nurse but found it useful to work with and discuss the issues in adult care.”

“Really excellent course – very inspiring and brilliant to hear what’s happening in other centres and networking.”

“Very helpful and inspiring – sharing ideas, re-booting enthusiasm.”

“Really nice to network with dietitians and DSNs from all over the country.”

A final thought…

I have been part of the Tomorrow’s Leaders for just over a year and half now. It is honestly one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Every single course participant to date has said that they felt more confident leading improvements in diabetes care and felt more confident as a leader as a result of this training (See some of them pictured below at our last cohort of the year). They also said they would recommend the course to other DSNs and dietitians looking to increase their knowledge and skills as a leader.

Participants also come away from the programme feeling Diabetes UK can help them deliver good care to people with diabetes. This shows that this programme not only allows us to reach more people with diabetes with accurate information but also enables us to continue to grow a network of healthcare professionals who are improving diabetes care across the country.

* Novo Nordisk Limited has provided financial sponsorship for the Tomorrow’s Leaders courses in 2017. Novo Nordisk has had no input into the programme content.

 

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