I was sitting in my office in 2007. On the wall behind me was an enormous drawing from a recent event about what a commissioning strategy should help deliver for people in Calderdale. We were working with the council on this. Phrases like “Good access to healthcare with great people”. “A home where I feel safe”. “A job that I like”. ” Support to be in a relationship with someone I love” were placed alongside pictures of houses, hearts and nurses.
My visitor commented “How great that people are engaged in your strategy and see the link to wider issues”
“Yes” I replied. ” Around 100 people with a learning disability and their carers came up with that”.
“But it’s the same as what we all want” he replied
Last week was Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week. NHS Employers, through their Personal Fair and Diverse campaign , sponsored and promoted a whole host of events and activities. You can see some highlights here and sign up to the campaign too.
I am delighted the Leeds Community NHS Trust has been selected as an Equality and Diversity Partner. We are one of 20 organisations that have been selected based on the work we are doing. We have also become a partner of Stonewall and are working closely with local charities like the Black Health Inititiative to look at how our services should be delivered. New partnerships with organisations like Change also help……”help what?”
They help us think about how we deal with the fact that “all” does not yet mean “all” for our services and for the NHS. This is something I learned working on commissioning learning disability services and the phrase “All Means All” comes from the excellent Valuing People team.
Because we know there are issues that affect people:
- People with a learning disability are four times more likely to die of a preventable illness
- Different cancers differentially affect people of different ethnic origins
- Bisexual people suffer from higher rates of mental health problems than lesbians and gay men, who in turn have higher rates than the population as a whole
- People from BME communities feel they have been held back at work in the same workplaces where people of White origin believe they haven’t
I could go on with a long list of issues that may shock but not be a surprise?
In an environment where we are going to significantly change services, we need to both keep people with us…..and get them to drive the changes with us. Perhaps this gives us an opprtunity to design services with communities who find ot hard to engage with services? That is why I was so pleased at our last Board meeting to see that we have disproportionately recruited people from BME communities to our trust membership. And that our members are already enaged in the trust. They helped recruit our senior operational managers. They are conducting the Patient Led Assessments of Environments. They are checking the way in which we communicate. And they are, crucially, sitting alongside staff at Rapid Improvement Events to help reshape services. If you want to get involved, become a member here. It’s free and will make a difference to care in Leeds.
This is only part of the programme. Training, education, partnerships all matter too. We have stammerers training staff receptionists to help them understand what it’s like to stammer and how to communicate. We have the BHI working with us on cultural competence. Stonewall are training us on LGBT issues. Patients and carers teach us something new every day.
We will keep pushing – because we are not good enough at this yet.
We need to be much better at engaging our diverse communities; embracing different leadership; and making sure All Means All; every time. I hope we get there. Because we are open to things being better, being the change we want to see….and because we will pinch with pride every good idea, insight and innovation that makes a difference.
Well done to BHI and Richard Worlock for their awards as PFD Champions this year.