What I am learning about using graphic facilitation

You may know from my profile that as well as music,  another love of mine is drawing. I am working to improve my skills and learning more and more about graphic facilitation. It is a fantastic way of communicating key messages. I have included a link here into a recent post on my other blog! I hope you enjoy it!  


thank you 




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Circle in the sand

great first blog from @qualityjill


Shared purpose

Today , we left for a short walk along the coastal path to the right of Treyarnon bay, a quiet beach at this time of year to the south of Padstow.
It’s almost the end of April 2014 , 29th to be exact, it feels like this date has a significance.

A solitary figure, let’s call him ‘lone guy’ has created the outline of a huge circle on the deserted beach and has begun inserting stones vertically into the circumference. His vision is clearly shared.

In the middle a single rock stands erect, and a kind of gate also built of stones is the entry to the circle.

The ‘lone guy’ runs frantically each time he needs more stones to the very far side of the beach, this is quite a distance, he collects as many as he can carry in one go and with a straining back he makes…

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A Picture can paint a thousand words

makes pt exp better for all

This is graphic I created for a hospital on NHS Change Day. It was a direct quote from a nurse..I think it is a wonderful pledge.

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Change; be brave, be positive ! My thoughts for NHS Change Day 2014


 I need to share ….. I am a ‘believer’, a supporter, a ‘champion’ of NHS Change Day!  Have I still got your attention?  Good!

As an avid Tweet-er  I have been following the awareness and interest growing for NHS Change Day 2014. There have been real conversations starting and ideas generated. However, as with any initiative there will be those who do not support, those who challenge, and those who may even wish to undermine and de-stabilize. Anyone who puts so much passion into their actions needs consideration. They need listening to!   Passion, be it positive or negative shows a real interest.

Such polarized opinions and views, are very valuable. It is the opposite view that gives us rich insight, perceptions. By being fully aware of both sides of the story; you can really begin to understand. So I wish to understand the negative, to help me make a change for the positive.

Now, along with my vision of possibility, I am also a realist. I am aware of what could be better with the NHS. We’ve heard about poor care, we know there can be fragmented services and poor staffing numbers on wards. We hear the patients ‘ask’ for compassion and respect. We understand a mum with a sick child does not want to wait in A&E for hours on a Friday night. We know some people don’t die where they wish. We know people don’t always get the food, the drugs and the care they should. We know that people’s voices are not always heard. We know some things are not right and must be improved….. But do you REALLY think NHS staff wake up each day with a plan to do a terrible job? I don’t.

When things go wrong, what’s the best thing to do? If your child fails an exam, falls off their bike, makes a mistake with their homework, what would you do? Would you tell them they are stupid? Tell them they are useless? Or would you take time to sit with them, talk to them, listen to them, help them understand what went wrong and how best to fix or improve next time?

Do you think you should tell others what an awful job they are doing, that they are useless, uncaring uncompassionate beings? That it is their fault or at least it is not YOUR fault that something has gone wrong? What would good private sector organisations do? I think they would apologize, attempt to rectify the problem, keep open and honest communication going and to keep listening.

We MUST listen to what people tell us, LEARN from it, keep communications channels open and do our best to FIX THE PROBLEM. And share this with others. We MUST look to what is good, yes learn from what didn’t work, but look for what DOES work. A ‘Good NHS story’ may not sell papers, but it will do a hell of a lot for the morale and motivation of the staff. As well as do a lot for the confidence and anxiety levels of a patient. 

So, my first ‘Pledge idea’; Learn from things; LISTEN and turn a negative into a positive ‘learning opportunity’.

Last week I heard a lady share her experience of a hospital stay; she said that ‘the happy staff’ treated me much better than those who were stressed and unhappy”. Another lady reminded me of the power of ‘body language’ when she stated, “If you are asking me about me (my health), please have the decency to look me in the eye”.

What a timely reminders of resilience of staff and improving communications. We must embrace and support the NHS staff, find the good, the best practice – seek it out, find it and share it.

It’s not that hard! You will find the notice board in a ward, on which are pinned ‘Thank You’ cards, consider the smiles and the appreciation when we deliver the service the patient expects. The relief on faces when something is done as promised. For every negative story we are faced with, we should find more that are positive. And treat your colleagues with respect.

One of the key elements of NHS Change Day is the power of sharing the great in our NHS, the positive reinforcement of what the NHS is doing!

Pledge idea No2 – Let’s celebrate the good, share success.

So I am proud and also thankful. I am thankful for the skilled and steady surgeon in Oxford who removed a brain tumor troubling my dear friend. Thankful for all the compassionate, professional staff who cared for my mum when diagnosed with breast cancer, the nurses who administered radiotherapy with care and respect, the compassion and insight of our  District Nurse who quietly told me it was ‘not a good idea to be too far away from my Mum’ as she ‘didn’t have long left’. This allowed us to spend time as a family, with my mum, at home for her last days. Giving my Mum the peace she wished for and, in the place she wanted to be.

I am thankful for the midwives who safely delivered my two boys, those who cared for the older one in Special Care Baby Unit. Thankful for those who supported me with dignity and empathy when I miscarried a baby. Appreciative of the caring and compassionate nurse who sat and spoke to me about whether I wished to have the baby’s name recorded in a ‘Book of Remembrance’.

The GP who listened to me and promptly referred me, on a snowy Christmas Eve, for diagnostic tests. Thankful to the consultant who held my hand, as I cried when I thought I had the same cancer that so cruelly took my Mum. The care in A&E, very late at night when my Dad was rushed in with suspected appendicitis, the porter who accompanied me to tea machine when I was tired and lost. The nurse, that placed her hand on my Dad’s shoulder, when he was frightened and worried about an impending procedure.

These are just a few of MY experiences. I am sure you and your families have your own.  So just imagine the positive experiences of the MILLIONS in our country since 1948!   Just think of what you value in your NHS and see what YOU can do to ensure others experience just that.

Pledge idea no 3 – Be thankful for our NHS- tell someone ‘thank you’ when they do something for you. Encourage your family and friends to join the ‘Thank you’ Campaign

We MUST remember these stories, the good and the bad. Bring these to mind as we work, as we communicate, as we share and we re-build our networks and community. I am in no way making any excuse for what may have gone wrong and I feel so desperately sad and disappointed for anyone who has experienced poor quality or unsafe care. But we MUST consider the good too.

Be ‘Proud of the NHS’, proud of what is happening each and every day in practices, ambulances, hospital wards, the community …proud of emergency practitioners working through the night, those on call for potential emergency, those who even when disheartened and tired deliver good quality care, those who plan and improve services, those who keep our hospitals clean, who manage our finances. Be proud of those who wish to make a change.

Please join me in being proud, be positive and let’s do our utmost to change and improve our NHS. So please consider what YOU can do! Be it as simple as pledging to smile, to spend a day listening to staff / patients, share some learning, and recycle!  Spend money like it was your own money, only commission or provide services you would wish your family and friends to receive! Treat others like you would want your mum, your dad, and your children to be treated.

And yes, those who comment, “We should be doing ‘it’ anyway” are right. We should, most of the time, I believe we do. But NHS Change Day can act as a reminder of what we should do, what we could do!  We can all make a difference and contribute to a greater good, our NHS

Please visit www.nhschangeday.nhs.uk  , take a look…. Do what you want to create a positive change.

 But do something!  BE POSITIVE, BE PROUD, and PLEDGE.


folow me on Twitter  @michaelafinegan

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Charging patients who Do Not Attend (DNA)

great piece , join my pledge for reducing DNAs for NHS Change Day http://www.nhschnageday.nhs.uk

A Better NHS

Patients should not be charged for failing to attend appointments.

 Originally published in Pulsetoday 

The introduction of a fine, either in terms of a refundable fee for making an appointment or a charge after non-attendance is an example of a zombie policy. Zombie policies, like user-charges for healthcare are repeatedly resurrected and killed.

The point about zombies is that no matter how many times we kill them they keep coming back. No matter how heavily armed I am with evidence or how deadly my arguments I will not kill them for long. Never mind for that matter, how loosely assembled the zombies are; their limbs may fall off with a slight tug or a casual wallop with a shovel, or they auto-decapitate with an accidental bump on a low doorway, they rise up again with a single brainless purpose, “we … will … punish the non-attenders… ”


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My Advent Calendar gift to you all


my fireplace – ready for Christmas

As a ‘sharer’, someone who likes to share with others I am giving you a gift of an Advent Calendar. I did this last year and had great feedback about how much people enjoyed it !

Each day on my Facebook wall I posted a song , a film clip, a meme , just something to create and spread some festive cheer. Now I am one of the first to moan about Christmas cards in the shops before the kids go back to school in September, and it drives me mad to be inundated with ‘tacky’ Christmas tunes in shops from October. However I think I have manage to pick a class list  of Festival gifts for you. I am sharing on Face book and via Twitter but for those who do not follow me …here is a summary of what you have missed, and a promise to post something everyday until Christmas Eve.

I would love to hear from you about what you think of my choices. So please have a look , get in the spirit and get ready for what Andy Williams calls …’The most wonderful time of the year’! x

and if you do want to follow me …find me at @michaelafinegan

So we start here and please note you may have to cut and paste the links into your browser! It will be worth it , I promise .

Day 1 – My version of the Advent Calendar for you all.

I did this last year and people said they enjoyed it. So here we go again. It will be filled with music, film clips, stories …anything Christmassy. So as a gentle start – for those who forgot to get an Advent Calendar, here’s a short tutorial OR there’s always M&S!
How to Make a Homemade Christmas Advent Calendar
Go to parents.com/advent to print instructions. Watch more Christmas craft videos

Advent Calendar Day 2: I know , I know … Usually she’s quite annoying but there’s something very festive & fun about this track. I think it’s because it’s in my fav film Love Actually. So indulge me and I hope you sing it all day ! X Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You

Day 3 Advent Calendar. A blast from the past & a tune that featured in my schooldays Oh the heartbreak 🙂 and just look at their hair. The boys longer than the girls ….so very 80s . Enjoy Wham! – Last Christmas .

Day 4 of my Advent Calendar for you all. This is a very interesting track, an usual take on the usual Christmas fayre. It is simple stunning , albeit a little sad, or is that melancholy. Joni Mitchell at her best And real pictures

I wish I had a river , to sail away on.

and keep checking back for a new treat every day x

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In Praise of LOVE; Where you invest your love , you invest your life


Today is a poignant day when I could choose to mourn loss, consider ‘what could have been’ but instead I choose to be positive. I am genuinely overwhelmed by a feeling of LOVE, so indulge me in an ‘open letter’ of thanks and love.

Flippantly I start with shoes …I love my shoes, over 100 pairs and still counting, with a significant amount in red and black. A passion which started in childhood. I remember my Nana had a rack in her bedroom; shoes in all colours and matching handbags. I discovered this passion early and I’m told, I often had shoes removed as I slept as I wouldn’t take them off when awake. Apparently my first pair were red.


A love of social media (I know ……sad…). It has broadened my world, found me friends I would have never met otherwise, supported my learning and my work and is a friend itself, always there, filling downtime and keeping me connected, turning the big world into a community.

A love of travel. I’ve been to places I could only dream of a child. I experienced the vast Grand Canyon last year – a place on my ‘bucket list’ so thank you for making that dream come true.  I’ve visited the Sphinx and the Pyramids, climbed into the valley of Petra to see the beautiful pink coloured Treasury. I’ve stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building overlooking Manhattan, climbed into the crown of the Statue of Liberty, visited landmarks in Washington (thank you my friend, for taking me to all the places you had visited the day before J ), reflected at the Reflecting Pool, stood on Omaha and Gold Beaches in Northern France and reflected once again.

Sat in the peace and solitude of beautiful Snowdonia, pondered over babbling brooks and waterfalls in Yorkshire, both spiritual places for me. Experienced the glaciers of The Rockies and the desolation of the Prairies in Canada.  Made a local in Atlanta, found family didn’t know we had in Carrickmacross, and rocked with the best in Rhodes.


I love London – a place I visit almost weekly. I was patriotic as we hosted the 2012 Olympics and emotional when visiting the Olympic Village and Stadium last year with family and friends. What a summer that was!

I’ve done the tourist stuff, stayed in wonderful luxurious hotels, sat on the South Bank with a book and ‘people watched’ in Covent Garden. I’ve contemplated art at The Tate and National Gallery, seen football and Springsteen at Wembley, exhibitions and Pink Floyd at Earls Court. I’ve sat in the beautiful Royal Parks, walked the wards of some of the most amazing hospitals that serve our country, been a visitor in the ‘corridors of power’ at Westminster (very 2012) and presented in conference rooms of companies across the capital. I often catch the No.59 bus towards Waterloo, and when it travels over the Thames and sing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ even if it’s in my head. I do love London. It was once said ‘If you tire of London, you tire of life. I’m not tired!

And I love home – definitely where the heart is!

My love of music. A true passion and so I can’t go more than a few hours without music. Music is like a drug.  I have a music ‘player’ in every room of my home ranging from a 1930’s gramophone to 21st Century  iPod docking stations, with record and tape players in the middle. The first record I bought was the eternal ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen and I haven’t stopped since. Music has been a constant in my life bringing me joy and helping me through hard times. I recall my Mums love of John Lennon, The Carpenters, ABBA, John Denver and my Dads choice being Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison.  I recall the family singing ‘ Country Roads’ whilst driving through the highways of Canada and I remember  watching  Live Aid in 1985, when my Dad put the TV in the garden as it was such a hot day.

And what a poignant moment when the first song I heard this morning was Pink Floyd ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’. It’s a message!


Music has brought me new friends and new experiences. I’ve try to see live music every week.  I love tribute bands (love you boys, you know who you are!!) as well as seeing the real thing. I was in the audience at THE Led Zeppelin reunion concert in 2007, seen the Rolling Stones from a VIP area in Hyde Park, rocked to the Foo Fighters many times including at the Milton Keynes Bowl and was treated to seeing them in Atlanta on my birthday in 2011. I have been known to have an unhealthy love of a certain drummer!

My first gig was David Bowie, when I crept under the fence at the MK Bowl. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Robert Plant & Patty Griffin for free at Rough Trade Record Store in Whitechapel as well as seeing them front centre at an intimate ‘warm up’ gig in Gloucester. I’ve experienced a tutorial on music composition from John Paul Jones in a small gallery in Cambridge and then saw him along with thousands others at Glastonbury, playing bass with Seasick Steve.  I loved seeing old Guns & Roses in New York and saw ‘new’ GnRs in  Las Vegas last year (Thank you Ian! X). I’ve seen (most of) Pink Floyd in the 1980s and saw Roger Waters build ‘The Wall’, with my oldest son in 2011.  His first gig was The Spice Girls for which I hope I’m forgiven, since we have shared seeing The Who and Them Crooked Vultures, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Black Sabbath and numerous legends at Glastonbury. I took my younger son to see ACDC aged 8, followed by Green Day and Springsteen.  They both come to festivals with me and I hope they remember a mum who gave the opportunity to experience one the most joyous thing ….. music.

Love to Dave Lewis and the TBL gang, who share my love of music in particular the love of Led Zeppelin. Dave shares his passion and includes me and my family in his world; we’ve shared film premiers, record fairs, met band members, been to small and big gigs, had BBQs, pub meets with beer and had tea in Bedford!  Dave thanks for the mentions in the TBL magazines and in turn I send my love and appreciation in keeping this wonderful music in our lives.


Lastly a mention to the Rhodes Rockers who have taken me ‘into the fold’ and surrounded me with the music that brings me joy!

I NEED music in my life, I really can’t live without it.  As Ahmet Urtegun said… What a great life, this life of music.

And to my friends…..

I have amazing friends. From those I have met on social media, who I have yet to meet but feel I know, we share a love for many things and there is an unspoken respect and fondness.

To old friends who were once lost, and since found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We have memories from childhood, from school days and some from ‘young adulthood’. We shared exams, lessons, music, parties, good times and sad times, we found and lost love, moved on, moved away but it has been wonderful to have you back in my life, even if for some, it is at a distance.

Love to my colleagues who support my passion of the NHS, however boring I get. Peers who give so generously of their time, expertise and experience. Giving me opportunities that are outside my expectations. I’m lucky to work with you now or to have worked with you, where we strive to support and improve the NHS and those it serves.

From colleagues who started as mere acquaintances and grown into mentors and good friends.  We have shared teleconferences in our pyjamas, had countless train journeys, boring meetings, shared apartments and even beds. We have travelled all over the country from London to Bristol, to Manchester, Sedgwick and Malden. We’ve been to Florida and Frimley, we met in Coventry, Hinckley, Newbury and Manchester in conference rooms and churches, sat and drank wine after hours and put the world to rights. Through friendship I’ve had weekends in Whitby, pizza in Piccadilly and spent inspirational afternoons in special calm garden near Aylesbury. In sharing those frustrations and successes, I love you all! And we WILL save the NHS!


Love to ‘The Bletchley Circle’ – the ‘mums’ who share enduring love of our children, as well as gossip, poker and wine! We have shared fireworks (How much!!??), BBQs, School Nativities, school gate banter! You gave this working mum a friendly face to connect with in an often scary ‘stay- at- home- mum -mafia’ filled playground.   Love to my neighbours who have offered practical help and support in difficult times and shared their home with my little boy- both here and in Sweden. You have all opened up my world, supported me with child care, given me laughter filled evening, friendship and love. Love you all – and see you Saturday!

Here I include a Bletchley Park friend- who has helped me and my boys in very dark times. And throughout all the months and years has remained a constant support, helping me with practical stuff, providing me with a debating and conversational partner. We share curry, wine and gossip, and a love of Turing. Love you too.

Love to The Girls – My closest group of friends from whom I’ve shared highs and the lows ,  weddings and  funerals, redundancy, new jobs , break- ups, pain and pleasure, shared achievements of children, dressing up at Black Tie events  and dressing down at health spas. Shared laughter and tears; laughed so much on a plane to New York, we thought we would be sick, smuggled champagne on board pre 9/11 and drank champagne legitimately on board post 9/11.  Tears – well they happen, we get through it.  Scary moments when we ‘just escaped’ arrest on a Rome bus to calm and secure meetings at coffee shops and pubs. For our regular Christmas meal where we share gifts and laughter, wine and love.  Thank you for patching me up , taken care of me , giving me a key to your house ( I still have it !!)  And for being people I could ring at 2am and it would be OK.

And when you need me, I am here. I will always love you and thank you for all your support.


To a special lady and her family with whom I share a passion for music and the NHS. This lady knows me all too well! Love to her poor husband who puts up with endless chatter (5 hours non-stop chatter in a car is the record I think!) and is still accepting of me. Thank you for lending me your wife for nights of music, gossip & Burlesque, for sharing your home and your caravan!  Thank you for allowing me access to your circle of friends who also love music and for the introduction to the ‘dark side’ of Rammstein and Drowning Pool. Thank you to my friend who texts me daily, is always there, shares my hopes and dreams and even if I don’t ask, helps me. The unwritten stuff: doing my washing when I was struggling, bringing my dog and kids treats, bandaging my knee when, like a child I fell and really hurt myself. I didn’t ask for this help but it is given without ever wanting anything back, proactive actions of love. For that and everything I love you, your lovely family and YOU ROCK!

To my friend who has supported me through thick and thin, my dearest and longest standing friend who despite my mistakes, remains loyal and loving. My mentor at work, who told me to save money each month (sorry!!), helped me learn a profession and gave me confidence. My friend with whom, I have shared joy and tears, who has stood by me when it was hard for her.  My friend who supported me as ‘bridesmaid’, and chose me to be hers.  A godmother to my son, and who trusted me to be Godmother to her daughter. My friend who sat with me when I lost my mum, who brought me flowers to make me smile, who shared my fears when told I potentially was carrying a sick child (I wasn’t!!), sat with me through tests and rejoiced in good news. Gave unwavering support through my own cancer scare.

My staunchest supporters, who even now promotes what I do to others and fights my corner. The lady who will filled my fridge with food  when I have been short of money, done my ironing  when she baby sat my children. The lady whom I’ve shared a hilarious time in a caravan with our two very small boys, who probably didn’t realise their mums, could laugh so much – at a chicken! You are my ‘wingman’ as they would say in ‘Top Gun’.

My friend – who has held my hand and my heart since 1984

I love you very much x

To my friend who was once near, now across the Atlantic. The ‘best man’ who takes that role to heart, who has listened to me, provided counsel, support advice and love. Who cares for and protects my boys as he does his own, who provides a constant support and deep friendship.

Who invited me into the warmth of his family, and through that I have new friends. A man who has kept my family close when it would have been easier to let go. Love you  always.

My family – for those far and wide whom I don’t often see (we need to sort that!!) but when I do the love is palpable! A strong golden thread running through our family. We connect on phones and Facebook and we need to change this to ‘face to face’. We share memories and blood. We also share a love of Whiskey. See you all soon, and although we may not be in constant contact, the love is there and it is deep and real.

For my lovely mum, who I HOPE I am turning into! If I do that will make me very happy.  I miss you every day but I know you are with me.  You guide me, I still feel your love and I know that you would be proud of me. I love you, even if you are not her to tell in person.

And I see your actions come through in my dear friend who will quietly, without fuss pop something into her shopping as she knows I worry about spending money on myself – just what you used to do. Thank you, you know who you are xx

My Dad, a solid support to me and my boys, who is calm and steady. My rock. The quiet man of high moral values, who says little until it is needed. The man, who  checks my oil and water in my car, arranges for things to be mended, picks up my children when I can’t and in return , I cook for him and he eats it without complaint! My Dad who provides a role model to my boys, their ‘football, golf and cinema’ companion. My Dad, the Granddad who will spend time with my boys so this Mum can have a coffee and browse the shops rather than be caught up in 3D action & adventure!

My Dad – the man in my life who has been a constant figure, giving me love strength and wonderful childhood memories. The man who only ever loved my mum – and always will. I love you always.

My sister – who I apparently I used to pinch as I was a jealous big sister…forgive me that! From childhood to adult hood (are we really this old?) you are my friend, my confidant and supporter.  You understand family politics, quirks and can often second guess my thoughts. You are my first choice of ‘house, dog and baby sitter’, allowing the freedom and space to escape being a mum for a while and pursue my love of music and travel. I can’t thank you enough. You share my memories, you share the pain of loss and the joy of new beginnings, you love my boys as they were yours, this can never be understated. My secret keeper, too much to say and you know it all. You get it!

Love you forever, ‘little sis! And I look forward to sharing your birthday next week xxx


And finally love to my boys…. My beautiful, funny, courageous, intelligent, talented boys. From before you arrived, you were loved. In a way probably only a mum can understand. That unconditional love you have for a child. From the minute I saw you both and held you in my arms I adored you.  From healthy chubby babies you have blossomed into beautiful intelligent talented young men. You have grown in confidence and achieved so much.  You make me so proud with the smallest things. I love watching you play guitar and play football. You make me smile; you don’t cause me problems or heartache.

And I know I am right in my opinion as everyone who meets you tells me what wonderful boys you are, we all can’t be wrong. I hope I can be forgiven for any mistakes I’ve made and together we go forward to fight the world. To me you epitomise the true meaning of love and I love you both with every atom of my being. To have you in my life I am eternally grateful and I can’t wait to see you venture into the world as you enter your second year at University and second year at secondary school respectively. Remember I will always be here at home for you, wherever that home may be. If we are together, that is home.


So today, on a day which I may have faced with sadness, I reflect on love and how fortunate I am. How lucky I am, to know the real meaning of love and to look forwards with hope for the future.

Thank you,



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Are you a TWIT not to Tweet? Reasons and benefits of joining Twitter

The Power of Twitter

Michaela Finegan

Why join the Twitter-artti! What are the reason and benefits from engaging in the Twitter-sphere


I am avid fan, user and advocate of social media. I first used LinkedIn a number of years ago.  I saw it as the Facebook for ‘grown ups’ and at the time it was useful in securing me a new job. (If you have not already ‘LinkedIn’ with me – find me on www.linkedin.com/in/michaelafirth). I use it to track people moving from job to job- essential in the NHS as people names (and roles often) stay the same, but email addresses have changed. There are number of very good groups of interest and it is a mini ‘work’ newspaper which I consult on a daily basis. The accessibility on smart phones and iPads makes LinkedIn a real ‘window’ on my professional world.

I have met people purely through this route of being ‘LinkedIn’ and…

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Are you a TWIT not to Tweet? Reasons and benefits of joining Twitter

Why join the Twitter-artti! What are the reason and benefits from engaging in the Twitter-sphere


I am avid fan, user and advocate of social media. I first used LinkedIn a number of years ago.  I saw it as the Facebook for ‘grown ups’ and at the time it was useful in securing me a new job. (If you have not already ‘LinkedIn’ with me – find me on www.linkedin.com/in/michaelafirth). I use it to track people moving from job to job- essential in the NHS as people names (and roles often) stay the same, but email addresses have changed. There are number of very good groups of interest and it is a mini ‘work’ newspaper which I consult on a daily basis. The accessibility on smart phones and iPads makes LinkedIn a real ‘window’ on my professional world.

I have met people purely through this route of being ‘LinkedIn’ and this has supported all my roles, especially in the NHS.

Facebook, however I resisted! I felt, it was ‘just for kids’. But after my trip to Glastonbury in 2009, I wanted to share pictures with friends and family abroad and this was a great way to do it. I continue to use Facebook and share with ‘friends’, with music and the NHS being themes that run through my ‘posts’. I keep Facebook as a private link to the world and am ‘thoughtful’ with whom I ‘friend’. For work, there is LinkedIn, for friends there is FB.

I keep a watchful eye on my university son when he is away, we converse on FB as it costs nothing and we can share anytime we want. I share my love of music with my friends around the world and in turn I gain a lot from hearing about their lives and loves of music. Many friends I would never have connected with were it not for Facebook. I also have a ‘private’ group of local mums and we plan our childcare, nights out, birthday parties and…Ahem…our ‘Book Club’. We have read one book, but we tend to chat, drink coffee and laugh! For that alone, Facebook is wonderful!

But now to Twitter…….which was introduced to me by my oldest son. He used Facebook from about age 15 but he stopped suddenly when he was about 18 and started using Twitter. He felt ‘Twitter’ was where it is at! I listened to him, viewed from a distance then set up an account and watched for a while – e.g. I was a lurker! And soon after seeing the rich conversations of people I respected I saw the benefit for me for work. I and started to follow whom I considered to be thought leaders e.g. @sarahfraser, @helenbevan @clarercgp and organisations such as local PCTs, SHA, Dept. of Health. At that time I was working at the Department of Health on the Urgent and Emergency care and Long Term Conditions QIPP Team, and connecting to people with a common interest nationally was amazing. I made new professional contacts that supported my work, provided evidence in the form of data, reports, and case studies which made my work easier and made networking a dream.

I had a private account and also set up a team account for the QIPP work stream. Lots of other work streams were also doing the same so it was an essential way of keeping in touch, keeping informed and …yes …networking!

So, my reasons for using Twitter include:

  • Networking – I ‘meet’ people virtually I would probably never meet. Not just people abroad but people who may not be in my sphere of influence or my circle of acquaintances/ work colleagues
    • I have secured speakers for events, met people to share ideas, thoughts, evidence , information and make new acquaintances
  • Receive ‘up to date’ news & quickly – often quicker than usual channels. Prime example recently was when I heard via Twitter about David Nicholson resignation a good 30 minutes before the formal NHS England communication to us all.
  • Having a voice – I can express my thoughts on topical issues, I can JOIN the conversation , again often with people with whom I would never be able to reach
    • Also having an Equal Voice – on Twitter my ‘voice’ is a valid as the next person. Hierarchy is stripped out and if someone wants to reply or engage, they will! This may not happen on other occasions.
  • Access to information – reports , evidence , data , stats which I may never hear about
  • Sharing information on what I am doing at work
    • Events
    • Reports
    • Consultations
  • Ask Questions to the world! And the Twitter world does answer! It makes the world a smaller place.
  • Managing Contacts – Twitter is like a condensed address book. I can arrange appointments, meetings – often at short notice. We don’t always have phone numbers to hand but with my Twitter network I can reach people.
    • Recently I had a meeting cancelled last minute when I was in London and I ‘Tweeted’ an acquaintance, he was free and we met! Saving me losing that time slot and we both gained from the meeting and exchange
  • Supporting ‘call to actions’. In my last role with the NHS Institute, Twitter was one of the channels we reached people. Especially good with reaching ‘real people’ patients, carers, charities not just the ‘usual suspects; of NHS staff. Great example was the NHS Change Day ‘campaign’ which I was involved with. Social media made this fly!
  • I promote my blog (michaelafinegan.wordpress.com) – have a read and feedback. Thank you!

This is my thoughts witter is increasingly being used a key tool for networking and communication in the NHS. There is guidance, published by NHS Employers to help the NHS ‘realise the benefits of social media and implement a more permissive approach to its use’.

They suggest ‘ social media is increasingly becoming central to the on-going effectiveness of the NHS.’ It highlights three key reasons why social media supports high quality patient care:

  • Social media is used increasingly by patients to help them understand the growing number of healthcare choices and the quality of services available to them. The NHS should be helping patients find the right information online.
  • It allows the NHS to understand emerging developments among staff or patients more quickly and in more detail, including any concerns about the quality of care, so that services can be improved.
  • It supports stronger engagement between staff, employers and the public, which patients say improves the quality of care.

So, be brave, embrace Twitter and social media wider. Set up an account, lurk to start with, watch, and follow, Re-Tweet (RT) and see where it takes you. A little tip – add to your Twitter profile something along the lines of ….’All views expressed are my own’.

It is painless. It is a MASSIVE opportunity to network, learn and share (surely all very relevant for the NHS as well as any business?)

And ultimately, it is FUN!

Feedback, follow me @michaelafirth8 and have FUN!

and for the related track – please click on the link below:

Robert Plant: ‘Please read the letter’-  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Xi5gvZ7Kk

Nilsson: ‘Everybody’s talking at me’ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AzEY6ZqkuE

Posted in call to action, communication, music, social marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

 Have Courage, Embrace Uniqueness ! In appreciation of Turing

Michaela Finegan


I live in the town known as ‘Home of the Codebreaker’s, Bletchley (http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk) . My house is so near to the amazing Bletchley Park; Station X, I can experience the  occasional Lancaster Bomber or Spitfire  roaring overhead when there are special events. Quite a treat!

I have developed a real passion for the amazing place and the story of the genius, Alan Turing. Alan Turing worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and was instrumental in code-breaking messages of the enemy , thus shortening the war and saving countless lives.

This weekend I was fortunate to be a member of an 80 strong audience  who witnessed the amazing ‘The Universal Machine’ at the New Diorama Theatre in London ( see http://newdiorama.com/whats-on/the-universal-machine).  An amazing cast beautifully told the tale of Turing’s life and death. Catch it if you can , but I believe it is a short run production. Here’s hoping…

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Posted in Alan Turing, Bletchley Park, call to action, communication | Leave a comment