Contemplation: the 7th C? - leadership management and supervision in nursing and midwifery

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Leader dictionary definition

28 / 7 / 2014 1.19pm

Great thinkers make great leaders. And great leaders make the time to think.

The NHS is investing a lot to train and recruit the right people with the right values into the service. The NHS Constitution, the 6Cs and each trust’s organisational values provide frameworks on which to build our compassionate service. This will only be worth it, if the same consideration is made to developing those within the service already, and making it an innovative, progressive place to work.

If we are to meet the challenges that face us, we need to improve engagement with our staff, and with patients and their families. We need to listen to them about what matters to them, and then to give our leaders the time and the space to think, to manage and to make improvements for the benefit of those staff, patients and families.

In her report published in light of the Francis review, Camilla Cavendish recommended that

“Trusts should be identifying people with the right characteristics early in their career and training them in performance management, teambuilding, and coaching. The Chief Nursing Officer has recommended that ward sisters, community nurse and midwifery leaders should be made supernumerary (supervisory), to give them time to lead.”

“Compassion in Practice, the vision and strategy for nursing in England, sets out a local objective for all organisations to review their options for introducing supervisory status for ward managers/sisters into their staffing structure, and demonstrate this work to commissioners.”

Cavendish Report 8.4.4

What is supervisory nursing?

Being supervisory to practice is not just about being supernumerary. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has defined supervisory in the context of the ward sister /team leader role in all settings as the presence of the following attributes:

  • being visible and accessible in the clinical area to the clinical team, patients and service users,
  • working alongside the team in different ways, 
  • monitoring and evaluating standards of care provided by the clinical team, 
  • providing regular feedback to the clinical team on standards of nursing care, and 
  • creating a culture for learning and development that will sustain person-centred,safe and effective care
RCN Making the business case for ward sisters/team leaders to be supervisory to practic

Offering your nurse, midwife and health visitor leaders supervisory status requires you as employers to actively acknowledge the value in leaders being 'hands on' in terms of the provision of care, but also taking the time to reflect, to supervise and manage - and perhaps most importantly - to innovate and implement change which ultimately results in better patient care, and better staff experience. 

It requires time and the space away from practice to think and we'd really like to hear how you might be doing this already, or ideas you have for making this work.

Take the time to talk…

Do your ward and community nurse, midwifery and health visiting leaders have dedicated time away from practice to supervise, reflect, plan, and manage? What are the benefits to doing so?

Join our discussion using the comments box below, or on our  talking point. (Registration is easy and will allow you to access the full benefits of our website).

Help us to demonstrate the impact supervisory status has on role modelling, staff supervision, clinical placements and communication with patients, families and carers, in order to contribute to its uptake across the NHS. 

If you have examples of supervisory nursing in practice, please get in touch with Hanna Murphy.

Take the time to read...

These articles and blog posts provide interesting further reading:

"Making the business case for ward sisters/team leaders to be supervisory to practice", Royal College of Nursing 2010

"Without time to think, the fire of innovation dies out", Annie Cooper for the Nursing Times, 2012

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