Chief Executive’s Message 8th February 2016


 The wedding crasher

It was definitely a first for me – gate-crashing a wedding. The guests were gathering, they looked smart (as usual I wasn’t wearing a tie and felt underdressed); the room where the ceremony was to take place was decorated and looked beautiful; the registrars had arrived and were setting up; the vicar, who was to bless the marriage after the civil ceremony, was there too. I even managed to talk to the bride before the wedding, she looked lovely. I had not been invited and so I left them to it. Not a normal working day – but a surprise, delight and a pleasure. The wedding was taking place at Ty Olwen, the hospice at Morriston Hospital and the bridegroom was an inpatient. The way the wedding had been organised sums the place up – they had only a few days’ notice but the arrangements were made, including a special licence, and the whole event was moving, poignant and very special for everyone involved. I met Sharon David, a medical secretary at Ty Olwen, and a number of her colleagues at the Chairman’s Awards Ceremony in November and she made it her business to nobble as many Board members as possible and ask them to visit Ty Olwen. Last week it was my turn and it made a profound impression. One of the striking things about the place is the apparent lack of hierarchy, of course knowing who is in charge is a good thing, and having met sister I was left in no doubt, but everyone seemed confident and to understand their role in the team regarding each other with respect. People seemed happy for Sharon to host my visit and I was able to talk equally to everyone – this is not always as easy as it should be. It came across as an excellent culture – everyone knows their role and can see where they fit in to caring for the patients – it is grounded in strong values of compassion, care and teamwork – ones which readily match the ones we have adopted across the Health Board. I am not naturally hierarchical and whilst I understand my responsibility and accountability and also the power that goes with it I also value an environment where the contribution of everyone is valued regardless of seniority, profession or rank. Ty Olwen felt like such a place. Almost half of my time was spent chatting to some of the patients in the day hospital. They were a lovely welcoming group – fiercely protective of the staff (and the fabulous volunteers who are so important to the unit) who they valued highly – but also of each other because of the support they gain from shared experiences. One gentleman was as much of a cricket fan as me – and I could have talked to him for the rest of the day. There is often lots of debate on the intranet about our organisation’s Values and our behaviour to each other and our patients – values are not soft, they are tough to live up to particularly when we have to change our habits, particularly those of us who are defined as managers or leaders. As many people have pointed out; values are usually something we bring with us to work – but Ty Olwen struck me as a place where a healthy culture has led to a collective sense of what is important, in other words genuinely shared values – I have no doubt they live the values of the organisation and have done for many years – but it reminded me of why we are undertaking a values programme – this collective sense of purpose makes a great place to work and a great place to receive care.

Ty Olwen is a good role model.

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