Five minutes with...

Alessandra Merryweather Learning and development manager, Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Alessandra Merryweather

 
Time 893 days ago Comments 0 comments
 

Sodexo Healthcare’s CARES programme has been bespoke-designed for our hospital teams across the world, to ensure all patients have the best possible experience. We spoke to Alessandra about how she shares her passion for CARES with the teams she trains at Stoke Mandeville.    

Q. Every Healthcare employee will be familiar with CARES but for those working in other segments, what does it stand for?

A. It stands for Compassion, Accountability. Respect, Enthusiasm and Service. The five core principles of our CARES programme.

Q. Why is CARES important?

A. Because the patient experience is at the heart of everything we do. CARES outlines how staff should carry out their roles, to maximise the effect of every interaction between Sodexo people and patients. The training focuses on customer service, empathy and behaviours.

Q. Tell us a little about the history of CARES.

A. It was launched in the UK & Ireland in 2008, and Stoke Mandeville was one of five hospitals to take part in a year-long trial. During that time 98% of Sodexo staff and managers were trained.

Q. Is the NHS Trust involved?

A. The programme works in tandem with the Trust here and we incorporate all its service standards into our programme. It is a real partnership for the benefit of our patients.  We have consulted with them to help us identify topics for CARES Week that align with their areas of focus too.

Q. Hospitals are hectic places. How do you find an opportunity to deliver the sessions?

A. We run CARES weeks – four a year – covering different themes and topics.  Our most recent was respect and dignity for example. I hold a series of half hour sessions with teams from across the services, so it’s a good opportunity for people to see the challenges of other job roles too. Because each session is only 30 minutes, employees can take part without it having a dramatic impact on their working day.

The topics then run across the three months after each CARES week and we now have group leaders trained to deliver quick reminder sessions. They’re just 10 minutes long and are designed so they can be delivered in a team huddle or even the hospital corridor.

Q. How do you engage teams?

A. By making sessions practical fun and interactive. We chose everyday hospital scenarios and ask our people how they would react or respond to each situation. It’s a great way to share best practice and ideas, and show how to do things the right way. And I remind employees that a hospital is not a standard workplace. We have to remember that most people don’t want to be in hospital so it’s down to us all to make every patient’s time here as comfortable as we can. Many small actions make a big difference.

Q. What’s next for CARES at Stoke Mandeville?

A. We’re working on a site charter for CARES. It’s a pledge from the top to listen to staff, show empathy, take ownership, lead by example and much more. Having this charter signals to all our employees that they are able to challenge anyone they see not conforming to the CARES behaviours. It’s up to us all to champion CARES behaviours.

 

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