About the Author: Lyndsey Oates

Lyndsey holds the position of Senior Manager, Leadership for Personalised Care, in the Personalised Care Group which is part of NHS England.

9 September 2020

Personalised care means people have choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered. It is based on ‘what matters’ to them and their individual strengths and needs. Personalised care is fundamental to the changes the NHS is seeking to make over the coming years – to deliver better health and wellbeing for individuals; better quality and experience of care that is integrated and tailored around them; and more sustainable NHS services

The NHS Long Term Plan makes a clear commitment to Personalised Care. These ambitious aims will require NHS leaders to be able to work with people across boundaries at a neighbourhood level to recognise and develop their ability, potential and power to make change happen for the greater good.  Leaders aiming to drive these changes will need a comprehensive package of organisational and leadership development that reflects the current policy context.

What leadership behaviours are needed to deliver on the Long-Term Plan?

The framework for the Leadership for Empowered and Healthy Communities described in 2013 the leadership skills and behaviours which are needed to build stronger, healthier communities in which everyone is valued and can contribute as an equal citizen. It states, “(Leaders need) the ability to see the big picture around communities and health and wellbeing…to promote community connections, social capital and to work with people and communities in developing the vision.  It is about starting from a grassroots level and creating the conditions to allow ideas and mutually agreed priorities to develop.”

It is about embedding the principles of co-production throughout the system to ensure services truly reflect what people need and ensure that staff and local people feel valued as partners in the process of improving health and wellbeing for all. It is about removing barriers and creating the conditions within an organisation and local communities for new ideas to flourish. We have highlighted some of the skills which leaders need to deliver Personalised Care below.

Strong leaders require the skills to lead and vision. This requires a deep, internalised understanding of personalised care, understanding what needs to change, an ability to inspire others to act and understand the bigger picture. Leaders must start with place and community to develop common goals, a shared purpose and to break down divides to enable change beyond services. Leaders need to value other perspectives, going beyond personal to the system. Leading change and quality improvement with communities; creating and harnessing energy for change. Exploring new ways to reach out and bring people, staff and communities together – and when thinking about the conversations that happen, move away from conceptualising ‘our’ space or ‘your’ space, but occupying a middle space, where we develop common understanding, purpose and goals. Harnessing knowledge, skills and assets of people and communities in the pursuit of improvements to services and ultimately better lives for people who use them. Driving forward a culture of collaboration, joining up the system, seeing each other as equals, building bridges, facilitating conversations, sharing stories and experiences.

In summary, we need to ensure our programmes enable people to challenge the status quo, shift power and change the culture of organisations.  Leadership should be systems-wide and place- and community- focused. We can include modules on personalised care and co-production, but it will take more for our programmes to do what is really needed to transform the NHS along the lines of the shift talked about in the Long-Term Plan and Universal Personalised Care. Personalised care, co-production and community development are essential building blocks to wellbeing and the NHS of the future.  We need to ensure that the next generation of NHS leaders is community-literate and see the growth of social capital and wellbeing as part of their core mission.

More information is available on the NHS England website. If you would like to find out more about the team and the Personalised Care workstream please contact: england.leadership@nhs.net