This morning we are waking up to the news that the nation clapped for carers. An amazing sight to see, hear and for many of us, participated in. It is something that has been highly emotional for many, has humbled front line staff and made many of us extremely proud to be part of the NHS. What this has made me reflect is how often the NHS and health and social care is seen by the public as those front-line staff that are visible. If anything, managers are often demonised for having to make unbelievably difficult decisions with unpopular outcomes. There is so much that quietly goes on in the background to allow the population to experience (on the whole) great care and service that helps them to feel better either physically, emotionally or if we’re doing it, right both.
There’s a great story about a visit from JFK to NASA, that I think fits well here.
JFK is doing his normal meet and greets with the good and the great of NASA at the height of the space race, trying to boost morale and highlight the efforts of his nation. He comes across a cleaner cleaning the floors in a corridor and he stops to talk to him. “And what do you do?” JFK says, “we send people to the moon” the cleaner replies.
Many of us in SCW are exactly like that cleaner, on the surface our roles can feel very far removed from the heroic work of the frontline, we are even often misunderstood for our contribution by the systems we serve, but we work to our core values of Patients First, Aspirational, Collaborative, Insightful and Respectful and always seek to make a difference. We make things work behind the scenes, so that the right decisions are made, the best evidence is considered and innovative solutions are found and put in place, so those who work on the frontline are better able to do their roles.
I once read that some of the best leaders are those that no-one notices, that they help make a change and quietly move on, with that change owned by those it has affected and continues sustainably without the leader continuing to be there. When I think of what we do in SCW that is often our role.
So with the nation rightly thanking the carers last night, just remember without realising it many of them are thanking us as well.