Chris Witham

Weeknotes s01e01

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL;DR: Finally started weeknotes, embedding habits, reflecting at the start of a new year.

[week ending 08/01/2021]

The Good

Inspired by Andy Callow, I’m finally stepping into the practice of weeknotes. Welcome to the journey, I’m really interested in the conversations we can have.

I’m feeling like I’ve had a great start to the new year. One of my team commented on Monday morning that “we haven’t seen you looking this relaxed in months!” An article Rob shared helped me understand why. I had a restorative Christmas, not just a relaxing one.

For all the upset, heartbreak and challenges of a Covid Christmas, there was something really good about not travelling, not worrying about packing bags, and just spending quality time at home.

By Wednesday I was starting to feel frustrated. But a few deep breaths and some reflecting time looking back at my notes from the Rosalind Franklin Programme brought some clarity. I was reminded of James Butcher’s, concept of ‘psychological nutrients’ for thriving.

  • Autonomy
  • Belonging
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Challenge and achievement
  • Clarity

This helped me think about why I’m getting frustrated currently. An action I’m taking moving forwards from this is to change my viewpoint from “This is rubbish, rescue me” to “What does this situation require of me”. This has been a phrase I’ve consistently responded to throughout my participation on the programme and constantly reminds me of circles of control, influence and concern. Useful for prioritising where I focus my energy.

Thank you to Akin, Ian, Ishani and Jason for always being willing to listen and helping me with my processing.

A frosty sunrise in the Forest of Dean with mist over the River Severn.
Pre-work walks, restoration at work.

I’ve also been continuing some work on forming new habits (another Franklin outcome). Using cue/routine/reward scenarios, I’ve started to create new habits that are contributing to my physical and mental wellbeing. Pre-work walks, bullet journalling and creating more time for conversations with my team are working well so far. Previous years seem to have vanished in a flash, but time seems to have moved a bit slower this week which is very welcome.

An absolute highlight to finish the week, despite lockdown, we’ve just enjoyed a three way video call to sing happy birthday to my 98 year old nan. Only made possible by the hard work of all the staff at Brookholme Care Home who have built a new visiting pod in the carpark and learn how to use Facebook Portal to keep residents connected. Nan had a great start to the new year, receiving a Covid vaccine on New Year’s Day. There is hope despite all the darkness.

The Bad

In recent weeks, either side of Christmas, I’ve not being feeling hugely productive. I think this is due to the sheer volume of work there is to be done in the NHS right now and the finite number of hours we’ve got to use in each day.

However, I felt well supported by colleagues on the #ProjectM Twitter Chat on Wednesday with this reminder that in the current conditions, I should probably be kinder to myself.

This is aligned with the current chapter I’m reading in Emotional Agility by Susan David which talks about ‘practicing acceptance’. Something we probably need more than ever given the events we’ve watched this week in Washington and the ramifications of Brexit here in the UK.

We heard this week that Cinderford has been unsuccessful in our bid to the Future High Street Fund. I am very grateful for all the work Cllr Chris Brown and the team have put into this project and we’re keen to work out how we drive forward some of the planned projects with different funding sources.

The Ugly

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about designing processes that succeed first time. There’s a plethora of work related examples I could give, but I’ll focus outside the NHS for contrast. On Christmas Eve, I dinged a tyre on a curb stone driving into church. For the first time in 17 years of driving, in the year I’ve done the least mileage, I took a chunk out of a side wall.

I drive the best selling vehicle in the UK December 2020, and yet, I’ve had a nightmare getting a new tyre fitted. My Tesla Model 3 Performance is a NHS Fleet Services lease. So I wasn’t too upset when I curbed it, and despite expecting extra time to be required to order tyres over the Christmas break, I didn’t actually need to drive anywhere. I rang the lease company tyre line and got booked in for 6 January (warehouse orders reopened 4 Jan + a day for delivery). However, the mobile service rang to say the depot didn’t have the correct tyre on the morning they were due to fit it. They rescheduled me for the 8 January and reordered the tyre. An hour later, they rang back to say it was on back order and wouldn’t be fitted until the 12 February!

The backup tyre supplier was able to get a tyre, but not fit at my home address and needed me to visit them, 40 minutes away. Not a distance I think it’s safe to drive on the current tyre and I don’t really have a spare two hours to take out of my working day to get it resolved. A local tyre shop was able to get one in next day, but VW Leasing needed Head Office approval to authorise that and weren’t able to get that while speaking to me after 17:00.

This all felt very ugly given I do almost everything else for the lease through an app on my phone, heck, I even use my phone as the key! Surely these tyre companies could link their systems somehow and use the stock from one with the mobile fitter from another? I’d really recommend NHS Fleet Solutions if you’re an NHS member of staff, their electric car offers are incredible. However, maybe avoid the Tesla Model 3 Performance, it seems to be seriously fussy about the tyres it needs. As electric cars become more popular and have tremendous amounts of torque, we probably need a whole raft of supply chains and services to change their operating models to catchup.

Notable conversations

I had a great conversation with Steve Brittan this week in my new role as Governor for GHC (exciting announcement coming soon). It was great to find out more about the Trust, how it is coping with Covid and some of the plans Steve has for the future. Whilst our conversation was arranged under a digital heading, we focused a lot on culture and communication rather than technology. A brilliant start. Whilst listening with my community and patient hat on, it was great to be able to share some of my national digital experience. I’m really excited about our future work together.

I made a conscious effort this week to try and reconnect with my wider network. Something that I’m finding more challenging now I’m not regularly visiting our offices in Leeds and London. It was great to exchange emails with Clare and start sharing some ideas about what support health and care leaders will need in the longer term as systems recover from Covid.

Things I’m reading and watching

What else should I be reading? Leave me a comment below.

1 reply on “Weeknotes s01e01”

  • Great stuff Chris. I can’t too much credit for the depletion article. It came to me via Deb in the North West LLA.

    I look forward to hearing more about your experience as a governor. I didn’t get re-elected to my third term at York Hospital. So will have to live vicariously through you!

    I wasn’t surprised by not getting voted back in. There was stiff competition. Which I think must be reaction to the pandemic – more people are interested, invested and want to help in healthcare. I was also pleased to see the applications were way more diverse than previously.

    Anyway, look forward to reading more from you.

    Robert Wright

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