hub Topic Lead, Eve Mitchell, describes how her passion to change care quality and to put workforce at the centre of every health and social care organisation’s planning processes led her on a journey to create the innovative tech start-up, ‘Establishment Genie’: an online workforce planning, safe staffing and benchmarking tool.
Sometimes, you have those days where you have had enough. ENOUGH. That’s really where the Genie started.
I began my career in the private sector, joining the NHS as an ‘experienced hire’ some five years later through ‘Gateway to Leadership – Cohort III’. I probably should have known that a moniker based on the Roman army was telling me something.
I had moved from an organisation where the worst thing that had happened was moving the water machine, to an organisation where the water machines had been removed some years before for "cost improvement" purposes. The organisation was struggling to cope on a number of levels, and there was no single answer to solve any of the issues. Sticking plasters were used to cover gaping holes, and we had significant clinical and financial issues.
Please don’t misunderstand. I had a baptism of fire, with many incidents I wouldn’t want to put into print, but my wholehearted support of the healthcare workforce, of their resilience and humour, their ability to innovate, and their willingness to stand up and fight, was sown in those first few weeks as a fresh-faced newbie with a desire to change the world.
I was approached to join another organisation in those heady days of ‘turnaround’ which gradually became ‘transformation’, as realisation dawned that death by a thousand cuts wasn’t actually saving any money, was impacting on care quality, and maybe (just maybe) we needed a different approach.
I was often asked to work with the nursing and midwifery teams based on experiences in my first NHS trust. The issues were often the same. Finance and HR had data – not necessarily matching data – and nursing and midwifery had ‘professional judgement’. Somehow that didn’t hold as much weight, so working together with nursing from ward to board, we would produce our own data based on care levels, costs and WTE, so we could come to the table to ask some really simple questions:
“Would you want to be cared for on this unit based on the care that is available?”
It made a huge difference, and started to change the conversation from one of conflict and protectionism to one of collaboration. After seven years of working through the same issues in each organisation it reached that point again. Surely there must be a better way? What would happen if we could extend our single organisation work to one that could look at variation between organisations, and include outcome measures, and look at workforce planning across all settings of care?
So, with an idea in our minds and a plan to do good, Creative Lighthouse Ltd was formed.
Establishment Genie was born in a shed and has been both kicked and nurtured by some wonderful critical friends and safe staffing experts. The hard work, bloodied knuckles from knocking on so many doors, and the highs and lows of running a tech start-up in a sector that often doesn’t embrace technology started to pay off. The Genie achieved NICE endorsement in April 2017 and was awarded a grant by Innovate UK to develop and test the Genie across all settings of care. We have now worked with front-line staff from more than 500 teams and organisations to review, remodel and report on their workforce, supporting them to meet the challenges of safe and affordable care with a backdrop of clinical and financial shortages, and track their progress using outcome measures to show that they are improving quality of care.
However, the journey doesn’t stop there. Dear reader, to paraphrase poorly, I have a dream. I have a dream that one day every health and social care organisation will put workforce at the centre of all their planning processes. A dream that all health and social care organisations will use the same approach to plan their workforce and share outcomes and data for the benefit of all, and the future of health and social care. A dream that our frontline health and social care leaders will work beyond professional and organisational boundaries to ensure that every person has the best and most appropriate care, provided in the most appropriate place, with the safety of every individual at the core of every action and intervention. Thankfully I love to travel and cannot wait to meet more innovative disruptors who share that same dream. Jump onboard – it’s going to be one heck of a ride!
Read on the hub case studies showing how trusts are developing their approach to workforce planning.
About the Author
I am a healthcare professional with over 15 years’ experience working in and consulting to public and private health and social care organisations. I have worked with a variety of health and care sector clients in the delivery of complex change, from transformational change and organisational design process to programme leadership and execution.
I am passionate about the safe staffing agenda, recognising that in order for any organisation to ensure appropriate care and evidence for professional judgement, there must be consistency in approach and a way of linking staffing levels to quality outcomes that can then be benchmarked within and across organisations. This passion resulted in the birth of ‘Establishment Genie’.