Not the podcast –  planning for the Wellbeing Team at the GP surgery in Benfield

I am a new convert to Bullet Journals. At the end of each week I create a new page to reflect on what I have learned. Last week, something that I learned was that you cannot podcast under a tree in the wind.  Here we are trying. We were stood in the drizzle under a tree just outside of Birmingham Cathedral.

I was very disappointed when I tried to edit it to the sound of gale force winds and tinny voices in the background. There was just enough sound to create a blog from it, so with apologies to Katie, Andy, and Sangeetha, here are your words rather than you voices.

It was Friday lunchtime and we had just finished an energising meeting in a café in the heart of Birmingham, talking about introducing Wellbeing Teams and Community Circle. Andy Brogan, one of the co-founders of Easier Inc. Easier Inc. helped us think about how this work builds on the system thinking that the team at Benfield had been doing for a while. He explains:

“I’ve been working with the team at Benfield for about a year now, looking at how we make the biggest difference to the seven thousand people that Benfield serves. We’ve been doing that through a mixture of quality improvement techniques. We’ve been looking at all sorts of nooks and crannies of their work, from prescribing to pathology to providing contraceptive advice, and taking that change forward by running lots of rapid small-scale experiments to see what works. 

It was obvious from the start that the Wellbeing Team approach is a great fit with work that has already started in Benfield, but that offers the potential to take it on to another level. And so it makes sense that this doesn’t become another project added on top of the ones that are already running, but that we take the chance to step back, to look at this as a single purposeful effort and to think about what matters – which is not a project, but rather the lifeblood of what Benfield is doing; how could ‘what matters’ be a project? That’s got to be what we’re about, so we’re going to try and bake it into the heart of everything that happens there.” 

Andy has used an excellent illustration as part of our conversation in the café, and I asked him to explain it.

“I used to work for a care trust where lots of good work had happened to create integrated teams, and it was just a little experience I had that really struck me; that, in the midst of the process of integrating, I opened the fridge in one of the teams’ offices, and every milk carton still had labels on it, like ‘OT’, ‘District Nurse’ and so on – which immediately told me that we weren’t as integrated as we hoped to be. So for me, that’s the litmus test; can we get to a position where you open a fridge at Benfield and there’s just one carton of milk for everyone? 

Katie was also part of the meeting. Katie Merrien works for our partners Here, in Brighton. She is going to be one of the first members of the Wellbeing Team at Benfield. We had been talking about how to ensure that the service is what Mark Cannon calls ‘person-shaped’ by building it around what matters to the person.


Katie says:

“I think we’ve recognised the importance of having a shared record that really captures what matters to each individual, both in terms of the staff working at the practice and also the people that we’re going to be supporting. We discussed whether we could create one-page profiles for each of the staff that work at the practice, and have those shared with citizens in the waiting rooms. We also want to support, the citizens of the practice to have one-page profiles and have these as the front sheet of their patient record.”

It was refreshing and exiting to talk about starting with what matters to everyone, and recording this through one-page profiles. We wanted to go further and focus on wellbeing for colleagues too. Sangeetha picked up this theme. She is a GP, and a Darzi Fellow who’s has just started working at Benfield.

Sangeetha says:

I think it is also important the wellbeing of existing staff is also important. Perhaps first steps might be arranging a meeting to encourage the staff members to consider what matters to them in terms of wellbeing, and building on previous work done by both the organisations. And I guess a first practical step might be arranging an agreement of how that team might work together to come up with ideas.

Colleagues at Here use a Wellbeing Wheel to reflect on outcomes, and we talked about how this could be used with colleagues as well in the context of their wellbeing.

As we left the meeting in Birmingham, we had agreed that one of the next steps would be thinking about recruiting a Community Circle Connector, and some of our conversations have been about how that fits with community navigation.

Thank you to Katie for her record of the meeting as an infographic, The group met again last week to take this forward. I persuaded my colleague Jane Pightling, who is supporting the Wellbeing Team work at Benfield, to do a regular podcast on what they are  trying and learning, so we can share how that’s going with everybody. In the office, not under trees.




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