Building a Better Health Service


Putting Values into Action

Health service leaders made a big decision earlier this year to actively develop a culture where our values become a way of life and a visible part of our everyday actions in the Health Services in the Mid-West. Bringing our values of care, compassion, trust and learning to life in the health services is key to providing better workplaces for staff and delivering better experiences for patients and the people who use our services.  A peer to peer approach to this culture change has begun and we call it Values in Action.

There has been a hugely positive reaction to Values in Action since it kicked off in the Mid West with a two-day workshop in October, for 180 staff and voluntary partners.
HSE Director General Tony O’Brien said: ‘ ‘We know that everyday thousands of health service staff around Ireland live our values of care, compassion, trust and learning.
Sometimes this is very visible, sometimes it is not. Values in Action is about shaping our culture around these values, so that they are evident every day in every workplace.

Values in Action has translated our values from words into behaviours (or actions) that we can all demonstrate. Through Values in Action we can create a better working environment for our staff and deliver better experiences to our patients and service users. This is about ensuring more and more of us put our values at the heart of our everyday work.’’Improving the Culture in the Health Services Values in Action is based on nine behaviours that reflect our values combined with a ground up approach to spreading change. It’s about all of us, irrespective of role or grade working together to change our workplaces for the better. The project focuses on behaviours which are visible and clearly understood.  We all know what instinctively is meant by them and everyone can adopt them. We learn our behaviours by copying those around us. Values in Action is based on the belief that real sustainable culture change is shaped by the behaviours of influential individuals at all levels across the organisation.

Nine behaviours
The Values in Action team developed nine behaviours that reflect the three dimensions in our working lives – us as individuals, working with colleagues and how we treat patients.  Staff at the workshop were introduced to the nine behaviours which reflect the HSE values of care, compassion, trust and learning. The nine behaviours are practical,
very do-able and cost nothing and will make a positive difference to patients, service users and staff. The 9 behaviours were focus-tested with staff and patients. They are informed by a comprehensive review of national and local patient and staff policies and procedures, staff and patient/service user feedback, direct engagements with staff and service users and patient/service user feedback.

Behaviours grid

Our Champions
The kick off event which took place in Limerick in October was for staff who had been identified as ‘champions’. They were nominated by at least four of their colleagues and peers in an anonymous survey as the ‘helpful, well informed and motivating’ people working in the health service in the Mid-West. These influential individuals are creating a
bottom-up, grassroots movement that will spread through their peers and colleagues. Each person drew up a personal plan for what they are doing to spread the behaviours. They are looking at and implementing ways to put the behaviours into practice in workplaces throughout the Mid-West. They are also looking at ways to capture stories about the impact the behaviours are having on staff and patients.


Next steps
The champions are now playing a key role in actively developing a culture where the values of care, compassion, trust and learning become a way of life for all who work in the health services in the Mid West . Importantly other people can copy and practice these behaviours; shaping new ‘norms’ and creating a culture we can all be proud of.
Leadership for Change Describing how she fully supports Values in Action, Colette Cowan, CEO UL Hospitals Group said: “I am delighted to be partnering with Bernard Gloster and his team from the Mid West Community Healthcare, and our national colleagues, to start an important journey working together to make the culture in the
health services in the Mid-West one which we can all be very proud of. I am incredibly proud of what we have already achieved in the UL Hospital Group – we have wonderful staff and a huge programme of development underway that is going to make our Hospital Group one of the best in the country. That is why I decided
to make UL Hospital Group the first hospital group in the country to take on Values in Action.

Primarily because it’s all about people – it’s based on human behaviour, and whether we like it or not that is the essence of what the health services are all about – people, working with other people, to care for people. ‘’ Bernard Gloster, Chief Officer, Mid-West Community Healthcare Values in Action said: ‘’What’s unique about this project is the 180 people who are involved as champions – they weren’t picked by managers. They were picked by their peers and that says something about them – they are the people who can lead and influence change. This project really appealed to me – it’s based on human behaviour and our 9 behaviours which are simple, practical, straightforward and very do-able. They are a guide for us all on how to be the best version of ourselves – for ourselves as individuals, for our colleagues and for our patients.”
The next steps Health service staff in the Mid-west are now being asked to get to know and to practice the nine behaviours. This is about using the language of these behaviours in interactions with colleagues and the people who use our services. It’s about talking to colleagues about the importance of spreading culture in a way that will make the health services a better place to work and giving patients/service users a better experience. It’s about sharing stories where the behaviours are being seen and talking about their positive impact. If you’re based in the Mid-West then get to know your champions who attended the two day workshop and support them. Highlight it when your colleagues or the people in your teams demonstrate these behaviours and call it out when you see opposite ones. Talk to your champions; empower and endorse their work as leaders of culture change so that they know they have your support. Culture change is a long-term goal and there will be ups and downs on the journey but ultimately we are all trying to improve our workplaces and deliver better health service experiences to those we serve.

The Values in Action Team 

The Values in Action Project Team is made up of staff from across UL Hospitals Group and Mid West Community Health Organisation supported by colleagues from National Communications, HR, Quality and Patient Safety and the Programme for Health Service Improvement.