• Madeleine Milligan

The 12 Days of Winter


On the first day of winter… what did you learn from last year?

It’s really important to reflect and highlight what worked well and what didn’t to build an ever-evolving winter model, that is process driven and not person centric. Given the pressures and pace that operational teams are currently working under, it is easy to forget to protect time to reflect.


On the second day of winter… where are your problem spaces?

Process mapping and diagnostics are beneficial in telling us where the key areas of improvement are required. We don’t need to recreate a brand new product every winter; build on the foundations already in place.


On the third day of winter… gather your workforce

Ensure you have the right team to deliver. It is easy in winter to simply draw individuals in from other teams during times of escalation, but they may not be able to thrive in environments that work at pace. Always take stock and evaluate the skills, strengths and experience of your workforce to ensure that it can deliver the expected outcomes. Don’t be afraid to draw on wider team members and interim staff to facilitate a stronger winter.


On the fourth day of winter… design your winter model

Through developing a continuous feedback cycle alongside fully understanding the needs of the organisation and key stakeholders, design a winter model that facilitates the requirements and, where possible, streamlines all information and communications through a single point.


On the fifth day of winter… create the right information flow

In a world of hard data that can be overwhelming and saturated, be clear of the story you need it to tell. Be sure to have a structured approach to capturing the anecdotal and real time information that can then be triangulated to inform areas that need an improvement approach.


On the sixth day of winter… engage your stakeholders

Regardless of where you sit within the NHS structure, it is critical to not only understand your key audience, but to engage them from the outset. Always take time to ensure that you have identified all partner organisations.


On the seventh day of winter… communicate, communicate, communicate

Communicating the intended change or improvement is critical to a successful outcome. Do not under-estimate the time required to reiterate key messages consistently and repeatedly, ensuring that the right people in the right place are able to enact the ask.


On the eight day of winter… remember to test your process

We so often fall into the trap that once we have enabled a change, it will be good enough. Like all things in life, small incremental changes and tweaks will need to take place to refine and ensure the model is fit for purpose. This allows for any team to create continuous cycles of improvement that will deliver a polished model and/or identify areas for enhancement, without disrupting the entire delivery.


On the ninth day of winter… have you upskilled and trained your staff?

Oftentimes, when we change or refine a model or process, we make assumptions that training or upskilling staff can be time consuming or complicated. If the change is communicated clearly and time is taken to myth bust, the workforce will become confident and able to deliver a consistent provision.


On the tenth day of winter… create the right information flow

Healthcare is often criticised for asking for the same information in various ways. To build confidence and credibility within a winter model, this needs to be streamlined as much as possible. Building a model that is complementary of the local NHS system, and a single point of communication flow (i.e. one inbox and one coordinator of information), not only saves time but also supports a mature and confident line of information of flow and requests.


On the eleventh day of winter… gather testimonials

Always capture what you did well. So often in healthcare we concentrate on the negative. When creating any successful model or process you have to capture the good and the bad, but must always celebrate the successes.


On the twelfth day of winter… evaluate your processes

To create an environment where we continually learn and reflect on what we are doing, we must always evaluate and improve our processes in a timely way. The beauty of winter is it has a beginning and an end and gives the opportunity to evaluate and take stock. Given the anecdotal feeling that winter and seasonal challenges are continually thrown at us, this can sometimes get pushed to the bottom of the pile or completely forgotten about. We must, therefore, always find time to step back and evaluate our processes.



In a ‘nutshell’, it is essential (particularly within a high-pressured virtual setting) to create an environment for everyone to thrive. Preparing early is essential and continuously evaluating your model is critical. If you would like to talk through this approach, including how we could support your current model and how to prepare for next winter, or if you would simply appreciate a fresh pair of eyes to evaluate your processes, we would be delighted to extend the conversation to you. Please get in touch: info@ccal.co.uk


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info@ccal.co.uk

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