Spiral Health runs a nurse-led rehabilitation unit near Blackpool called Bishpam Hospital. We specialise in intermediate care – the pathway between hospital and home – and the patients in our forty beds stay with us for between fourteen and sixteen days. In April 2012 we became the first NHS Foundation Trust bed-based service to become a social enterprise. It makes us unique and gives us the drive to be pioneering in all aspects of our work. Today I’m a managing director, but I started out as a nurse. In the past I’ve also been matron of a 52-bed nursing home and so I know a lot about patient care. I’ve worked extensively in social care, too, helping to support people with learning disabilities. My job at Spiral Health enables me to bring together all my experience in health, social care and culture change and apply it in a dynamic setting. If you ask them – and we do – most of our patients say the level of care we offer is amazing already, but to my mind we are only part of the way along our journey to make Bishpam truly patient-centred. By patient-centred I mean that want to treat every single patient who stays here as a real person and not just a patient with a condition.

I often use the word ‘customer’ to describe our patients because I believe that this changes your whole mindset straight away. I really want the people who work here to think about our patients differently.

It’s a question of moving and improving the culture – although the culture was already good here and person-centred in a lot of ways. But we can do more and my ultimate vision is to have a centre of excellence for patients which is extremely patient-centred and that this thread should run through their whole stay. We needed a mechanism for developing a patient-centred journey and so we’ve started to work with the UK’s leading expert in person-centred practices, Helen Sanderson. She and her team at HSA are working with us to understand what a patient-centred journey should look like. The journey we are developing will start before the patient even arrives at Bispham. An assessment co-ordinator will begin to develop a health history for the patient but it will also include sections on ‘what is important to me’ and ‘how to support me’.

When a new patient walks through our doors, we’ll have received their profile in advance and we’ll be able to greet them by name and understand what makes them tick. That small change – that personal greeting – can change the tone of a whole stay in hospital. It can reassure a nervous or elderly patient that we know and understand them.

I find small details like this so inspiring, but this is just one aspect of a very detailed patient-centred plan that we are starting to implement. My objective is for patients leaving our unit to be shouting our praises from the rooftops. And I want other healthcare providers to rate our pioneering ideas so highly that they pinch them for use in their own sectors. Why not? We’re not in this for financial gain – we just want to make a real difference to patients.