Joan Pons Laplana

JOAN PONS LAPLANA
Transformation Nurse,
James Paget University Hospital

Why am I Proud to Work in Healthcare?

Back in March we spoke to Joan, a UK-based nurse from Barcelona who has done exceptional work in promoting compassionate and personalised, person-centred care. He is committed to empowering frontline staff and patients so that they can provide and receive the services they want. A lot has happened in the last few months, so we caught up with Joan to hear what he has been up to.

In May, I completed the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and raised nearly £4,000 for the Cavell Nurses’ Trust. When I first started looking for sponsorship I found it really difficult to ask people for money. We are all living in a period of austerity and things are tight for everyone. Then I saw that people had been successful using crowdfunding websites and making appeals on social media. I had a large Twitter following, so I thought I’d give it a try and set up a Crowdfunding page alongside my JustGiving page, which ended up doing really well.

That was when I had an idea to sell sponsorship for each mile...I ended with sponsorship for every mile, the halfway point and the finish! Then people started asking me if they could sponsor my t-shirt, and of course the answer was yes!

A few months before the marathon I was at an event in London where I met a man from a company that was sponsoring it. He told me how much they had paid and how big the audience was. It was less than the number of people who follow me on Twitter, so I asked him how much he would be willing to pay for exposure to that many people and he said, “as much as you want!” That was when I had an idea to sell sponsorship for each mile. They were all snapped up within a month and a half, and I ended with sponsorship for every mile, the halfway point and the finish! Then people started asking me if they could sponsor my t-shirt, and of course the answer was yes!

During the marathon I tweeted photos and the names of my sponsors, who returned the favour. In all, we had 32 businesses – all health-related – publicising the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which was fantastic. For each of them, during the appointed mile, people tweeted some best practice advice, tips, history or anything else on a topic linked to the sponsor. We managed to create a massive Twitter storm, with more than 600 contributors, nearly 3,000 tweets and more than 24 million impressions!

Next year I want to raise even more money, but by doing a challenge that allows other people to join in. We will announce settled arrangements around October, but at the moment we are planning on doing a walking challenge in the spring.

I was working in primary care at the time, and I pledged not to leave any patient’s house on my home visits before I had seen them smile.

The next big event on the calendar is NHS Fab Change Day, which takes place on Wednesday 19th October 2016. The idea behind it is to show that small changes can have a big impact and lead to large-scale improvements. It is in its fourth year now, and in 2015 there were 750,000 pledges to change things for the better. I was working in primary care at the time, and I pledged not to leave any patient’s house on my home visits before I had seen them smile. I heard of a hospital manager who pledged to spend a day in a wheelchair, and he found that lots of parts of the hospital were difficult to access – a problem which he set about solving. Taking part in the event is easy, and you can follow everyone’s progress on the Twitter account @FabNHSStuff.

Twitter came to my aid in another way recently, as it was through Twitter that I found my new job. I have started working as a Transformation Nurse at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk. It was a big decision to relocate for four days a week, but the role was perfect for me and I had to accept it. I focus on creating a culture of compassionate care with quality at the centre of it. I am working on improving sepsis care, implementing twenty-four-seven services without compromising quality, and making sure that elderly patients receive holistic care. We want introduce a frailty treatment pathway. I have also been talking with the University of East Anglia about working with their students.

I have been very proud to serve as a Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal ambassador and it is fantastic that after thirteen years we have finally achieved our aim.

The other big success that I have been involved in over the last few months is the unveiling of the statue of Mary Seacole outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Mary was a Jamaican nurse who tended to wounded soldiers from both sides in the Crimean war. She was an extraordinary person who embodied the spirit of caring, and the statue represents her values and commemorates the difficulties she had to overcome.

There has been a campaign running to raise funds since 2003. I have been very proud to serve as a campaign ambassador and it is fantastic that after thirteen years we have finally achieved our aim. The statue was unveiled on 30th June 2016 and it is absolutely beautiful. Around the base is a quote from an article in The Times that was printed while she was in the Crimea. It reads, “I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.” Now that Mary’s statue stands facing the Houses of Parliament, we can be sure that she will always be remembered.

I have had another cause for cheer recently. Some of the press in Spain heard about my nomination for Nurse of the Year and I had an interview published in El Periódico, one of the largest newspapers in Catalunya. My old nursing college saw the article and now my story will be shared with their future students. It’s humbling to be recognised back home for my work here, and it is something that I am extremely proud of.