Leadership recommendations for health and social care

30/09/2022 - Leadership recommendations for health and social care

This blog will highlight the recommendations for the health and social care sector in England made from the report Leadership for a Collaborative and Inclusive Future, as well as highlighting and identifying the comparison of offers from the new Leading to Change programme and areas of possible expansion.  

In recent years we have been aware of the phenomenal pressure placed on the health, social care and social work sectors with regards to attracting and retaining staff and due to ongoing pressures owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that, as the workforce responds to additional pressures and challenges, leaders model and promote compassion. We believe that having  effective leadership in place within the workforce is important and will lead to increased wellbeing for staff and better individual care and outcomes.

Leading to Change is the Scottish Government’s flagship programme for driving  more compassionate and collaborative leadership across health, social care and social work. It is being delivered in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland (NES). Kind and compassionate leadership, that listens and fosters diverse, inclusive and positive workplace cultures, is crucial to improving staff wellbeing and as a result, helps to deliver high quality care. It is simple: we all perform better at work when we feel supported and valued.

Leading to Change aims to recognise and develop leadership at all levels across health, social care and social work across the public, independent and third sectors to help them identify their career development needs and resources to help them meet those needs.

The challenging and diverse environment in which we are currently living was recognised by the report and it was identified that views towards collaborative leadership were ‘unfriendly’ and that to successfully deliver health and social care with these challenges , collaborative behaviours are essential. It also highlighted that there is a misunderstanding of leadership and collaboration throughout the workforce, as all are seen to be the responsibility of those in senior positions or line manager roles which contributes to the continual silo working.

The in-depth review published seven recommendations highlighting areas of best practice, all of which have been accepted and will be taken forward under new proposals in England. These are:

1. Targeted interventions on collaborative leadership and organisational values

2. Positive equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action

3. Consistent management standards delivered through accredited training

4. A simplified, standard appraisal system for the NHS

5. A new career and talent management function for managers

6. Effective recruitment and development of non-executive directors (NEDs)

7. Encouraging top talent into challenged parts of the system

Leading to Change seeks to address similar issues in a Scottish context. More specifically, Leading to Change will integrate social work alongside social care and health, while the report focuses solely on health and social care in England. By working alongside all three sectors, Leading to Change will have a whole systems approach as we know that system-wide culture change starts with good leadership. While the landscape in Scotland is smaller and less complex there is still a need to assist the development of compassionate and collaborative behaviours; this should help the workforce feel supported and included, be better prepared to manage challenging issues and be a happier, more productive workforce will benefit patients and service users in receiving the best possible care.

Matched recommendations

Leading to Change has diversity and inclusion at its core, with targeted interventions designed to increase the diversity of current and future leaders. We have created a range of targeted interventions that will look at, among other measures, embedding allyship, creating support networks across the three sectors, line management buy-in and offering tailored support for minority ethnic staff such as coaching and mentoring. We recognise that having a compassionate and inclusive leadership approach in workplaces has been proven to help create a wellbeing-centric work culture that could have significant benefits to the workforce, which includes staff retention.  

The Leadership Success Profile (LSP) seeks to broadly implement consistent standards for managers. The LSP describes the characteristics, behaviours, values and competencies that we expect to see in current and aspiring Chief Executive Officers. This has been tested with key stakeholders and has been well received. The LSP also underpin our wider Succession Planning ambitions for NHS CEO and Executive roles, and will be used to support the attraction, appointment, development and retention of diverse Chief Executives. Initial scoping has led to the creation of a framework process for our Succession Planning Programme, and work to create national talent identification and talent management processes will be progressed.

Leading to Change has several on-boarding programmes that address talent management and the challenge of recruiting top talent, such as the CEO, Human Resource Directors and Nurse Director on-boarding programmes. These programmes have helped to ensure there is a national on-boarding process for certain executive level roles within health.

Some of the recommendations in the report fall outside the current scope of Leading to Change, such as an entry level induction, a standard appraisal system and Non-Executive Directors.

Leading to change is committed to delivering a programme for leadership at all levels across health, social care and social work, consisting of a range of resources and programmes. These will be delivered by highlighting the behaviours of kind, compassionate and collaborative leadership which echoes our overall ethos. Leaders must examine the needs of staff, ensuring their wellbeing is a priority to help them deal with  rapidly changing situations. Through developing more effective, compassionate and collaborative leadership at all levels we can create and sustain the conditions and culture that improves recruitment and retention, supports staff wellbeing and enables a richness of talent and diversity  across all sectors.

Our thanks to the Leadership, Culture and Wellbeing team in Scottish Government for this blog.

All information within this blog was correct at the time of publishing.

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