Amidst all the personal travails, worries and awareness of one's mortality and age, came last week..a week to lift you out of any form of mood dampener one could go through.
Firstly, I spent a day in the North East of England touring a few CCGs namely the Gateshead CCG and then the Northumberland /North Tyne CCG talking about diabetes care, sharing our local experiences, trying to help others avoid the pitfalls, alerting them to the obvious obstacles...and through the day, I met so many ..Consultants, GPs, Commissioners, managers, Senior management of acute Trusts...none of whom had anything in them but the unflinching desire to make things better. They wanted some opinions but they were there, around the table, sitting as one..putting a lie to the oft stated facts that Commissioners and providers just wanted to stay at each others throats.
Yes, politics was there..but as I listened to the nurse passionately evoke what care meant to her, as I listened to the Commissioner trying to make best of resources available...it was an uplifting experience, knowing this wasn't people just confined to power points or colourful charts, they were trying..heck, they were...to get things better. Consultants were there exploring options as to how they could work in the community with their primary care colleagues...no one needed another flip chart to map out the problems, they wanted answers..and frankly? They were nearly there. They didn't need me there but maybe perhaps an assurance that after 2 and a bit years of the battle-scarred armour holding, just a word to say...it will work.
Don't get too risk averse...take that leap of faith, ladies and gentlemen, go on..go for it...lots of folks depend on that. Nothing gained till ventured. So Sam, Sarah, Helen,Steven, Katherine,Nick et al...top job all...carry on the fabulous work- and any-time needed, pick that phone up! Alison and Bryan- thank you for your hospitality and amidst that the opportunity to meet with a similar minded long time friend and colleague, Pete Carey. Had age dimmed the fire...munching on the bacon sarnie for breakfast...the answer came back sharp and fast...No it hadn't. Formation of a merry band was another step closer...
Next came an education event for Diabetes specialist nurses- with my session being on use of social media and how it could help with diabetes care. My first question to the audience was how many of the attendees were on twitter...expecting to see not more than a hand or two in an audience more than a hundred. A genuine thrill to see the number of hands that did go up...it was happening!! So, gritting my teeth through the pain, it was all about showing what nurses can do on twitter..talking about the nurse leads on twitter, @wenurses and then showing what engagement with patients on twitter could do, how it could help to improve diabetes care, what lessons could be learnt from reading blogs from patients with diabetes, learning about their trials, tribulations, what we can do...and no, not everything was about money. Poured a lot of heart and passion into it..and going by the influx of DSNs joining twitter that night, maybe, just maybe, the change in diabetes care can be influenced from the grass-roots. Again, that audience was packed with folks who needed to be let go...unleash the potential..get past the daily frustration and do what they all are so raring to do...improve diabetes care. Change is coming..I do believe it is :-)
Finally, the annual Quality in Care Awards happened. Last years experience was fantastic and this year, the department got short listed in 3 categories and even though, no top prizes and just a "highly recommended" certificate, was supremely delighted due to two counts. One was that all 3 projects were developed, led and entry put forward by 3 of our nurses...if that isn't leadership, initiative and a desire to improve, I am not sure what is. Kudos from my end and as our Super Six model beds in, this is the second phase as the acute team concentrates on making the "Six" the best in the business..so delighted that some recognition this early on. However my main delight was at seeing our neighbouring Community Diabetes team (West Hampshire) led by Kate Fayers and Caroline Atkinson pick up some richly deserved accolades. I have known them long and one cannot measure the level of unstinting dedication they have to improve diabetes care...so accolades long time overdue. The next day, I saw Caroline- and saw a million watt smile on her face. See what recognition of hard work does to morale?
This week has been hard..and at the end of it, came the biggest cultural event in our ethnicity..known as Durga Puja...met up with some amazing friends, spent time with family and prayed for good health for all amidst the usual blitzkrieg of lights, sweets, music etc. And as I sat with a lovely glass of Talisker, I looked back at the week and smiled. Who said diabetes care was without a rudder? Things were happening..yes, they were slow..but they were certainly happening. Maybe the national organisations have been slow off the blocks but at the grassroots? Conversations were happening, the effort to engage with patients was on.....the fire is burning bright...we just need to keep it going.
So to all those who have joined twitter, to all those who read this blog, I can only encourage you to carry on. Inspirational people involved in diabetes care abound- whether they be a healthcare professional, patient, Commissioner or otherwise. Find them, learn from them..and do what you passionately believe in. In the words of Michaelangelo.."The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it".
Ladies and gentlemen, sky's the limit. Go for it.