The Chaplain’s Blog: HPMA Winner for Innovation in 2014 part 2

In the article posted on our website two weeks ago, the Reverend David Southall explained how his good news blog has progressed since he won the HPMA award for innovation. Here he explains how to set up your own version.

So now I hear the questions! What about the Trust Board? How did you deal with communications? What about negative feedback?

So here is a potted history of how it got going and some pointers of how to start…

Step One: Talk to Comms and the Trust Board. Tell them what you want to do. Bear in mind that it is risky for them so you have to show that you are a safe pair of hands and won’t do anything detrimental to the Trust. At the same time stress that it is independent and only under your control.

Step Two: Find a platform. I use Wordpress. It is free, simple to use and allows me to update it wherever I am. Let me say at this point that I am not a natural at social media – I learned step by step – making mistakes as I went but having confidence that the Board was supporting the initiative and would back me up.

Step Three: Remember that content is King! If you write dross, then you won’t be surprised to find that no one will read it. Better to write meaningfully and less often than to overwhelm readers with poor quality entries.

Step Four: Publicise! Publicise! Publicise! So I got the local press interested; designed some posters and put them in community spaces; had Comms put the link to the Blog on the Trust Intranet and internet pages; got local press and radio appearances where I could; and invested time in telling people about it via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social media ways I could.

Step Five: Always keep in mind the aim of the blog. My aim was to promote good news and increase staff morale. So if someone sent me something that was negative, I would sympathetically direct them to the proper channels. Again, hold onto the idea that what appears on the blog is the responsibility of the writer. Oh, and be prepared to stand by what you have written.

If it sounds time consuming then it is not… and when the letters and emails rolled in, it was only a matter of cutting and pasting. And I have had some truly moving stories of compassionate care told by the people who matter most: the patients and their families.

Now it is true that chaplains hold (arguably) a unique place within NHS organisations. Often we are seen as outsiders; and in some senses honest brokers. But in my view, it does not need to be the chaplain who creates the blog (it just so happens that I am one). Anyone with integrity in their Trust could set one up as long as they have the confidence of Comms and the Board. In fact, there are a number of Blogs in progress now in other Trusts and my vision is for each Trust is to have a Blog like this – and to see the benefits in terms of staff morale and community engagement.

Rev’d Dr. David Southall is Chaplaincy Team Leader at Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust.

David is always eager to hear from people about the blog. He can be reached on David.Southall@worcsacute.nhs.uk or you can follow him on Twitter @revdavesouthall or @WeChaplains. If you would like to get an independent view on what he has writen the Chairman, Harry Turner will gladly give you some time and can be emailed at Harry.Turner@worcsacute.nhs.uk.