Recent research has shown that storytelling within NHS and Social Care organisations can improve services and patient experience, as well as develop the capabilities of staff.
Storytelling offers a route to the heart, and has a lasting impact on the mind.
Our NHS and Social Care systems are not always structured to provide adequate support to the people that need it the most. Implementing storytelling within an organisation can be the catalyst to bring about much-needed change within our mental health systems.
Our storytelling programme provides a framework to improve the following:
The use of storytelling by nurses, for example, is becoming an important tool for understanding how patients perceive the healthcare they have received. Listening to the voices of those using services can provide an insight into their experience and a greater understanding of how services can be improved.
Provide Better Care.
Storytelling enables practitioners to spot warning signs that a patient requires further care. Through listening, nurses gain an insight into how a patient is feeling and allows them to better plan appropriate care and recovery.
Improving Leadership and Team Motivation.
Storytelling develops leadership skills. Through listening to stories, managers connect with their teams which in turn builds motivation and productivity and creates a sense of value. Storytelling can be used within recruitment processes, and can contribute to board objective setting, performance monitoring, team and individual development, training, education, re-validation and personal development reviews.
Develop Staff Capabilities .
Frontline health and social care staff can develop their compassion and caring capabilities through storytelling. Information gained from stories provides confidence to make changes which improve care, and encourages increased emotional support for those using services. Through listening, staff can understand how to improve their service and provide better care.
(Source: McIntyre L et al (2015) An evaluation of storytelling in the NHS)
Feedback from healthcare professionals.
“As a GP I hear people’s stories all the time when they come into my consultation room but they are generally at a difficult point in their life, struggling with their mental or physical health or life in general. I feel the need to help fix the issue with them which isn’t always easy, let alone actually possible.
When I heard you speak at the mental health alliance your story was very powerful and impactful for me on a number of levels. You had clearly had huge struggles over a number of years but were so open and honest and brave to share these with such a huge audience. I was struck by your descriptions of interactions with different services both charitable (Childline) and NHS and how the responses you had received had felt.
It made me think about how I may have responded to patients who have reached out to me over the years and how this may have been received. Vitally your story was one of hope and was hugely inspiring. Of course as a GP I know people can overcome struggles but sometimes we don’t see this because they don’t come back to us as they don’t then need us. It helped me realise how what we do can make such a difference both negatively and positively and what power for good we hold in every interaction we have with our patients.”
“I met Debs whilst I was commissioning mental health services in Southampton and during that time I attended one her storytelling events and worked closely with Debs and Touch Network. From the first moment that I met Debs I was so inspired by the way she could tell her story and inspire others to tell their stories in such an honest way but one where the underlying message was always one of hope, healing and growth. It really changed my perspective on how I wanted to understand what mattered to people in Southampton and fundamentally changed the way I wanted to commission and weave the ethos of Touch Network into the heart of our Mental Health Commissioning. Debs and my team worked together to commission an amazing engagement exercise to really understand what was important for people in managing their mental wellbeing and happiness, from our usual handful of responses, Debs was able to use her connections in the local community to gather feedback from over 700 people from across the City with a wide range of backgrounds.
Not only did Debs inspire me to be a better commissioner but she re-kindled a spark in me for story telling which I had long forgotten from my time working in CAMHS with a psychiatrist who taught the importance of stories in peoples journey. As a result of working with Debs and Touch Network I would like to believe that the small commissioning team in Southampton undertook with renewed vigour to make sure that all of our commissioning was underpinned by true engagement and co-production. On a personal note Debs own story and her ability to stand up and tell it is exceptionally moving and courageous and I would defy anyone to hear it and not want to do more to make sure that we all make positive changes to the way we commission and deliver mental health services. The importance of putting that person at the centre of everything we deliver, the small changes that you need to make to really listen to someone, make them feel like a person and not just a patient.”
Senior Mental Health Commissioner