A new community of reps

An RCN initiative is helping reps share knowledge and feel more valued

“Every RCN rep makes a difference in their workplace,” says Mairead O’Siochru from the RCN’s learning and development team. “They make both big and small changes that bring unparalleled benefits to the working lives of members, which in turn impacts on the quality and safety of patient care. When those stories of change are captured and shared they empower the whole rep community and sow the seeds for more change.”

This idea of promoting and celebrating the vital work reps do is central to the RCN’s “changemaker” initiative, which was set up last year as part of the Value of Reps project. Twenty-two reps initially signed up as changemakers, and their experiences were documented in an RCN book, The Value of Reps: In Our Own Words, which launched at the most recent joint reps’ conference in Milton Keynes. Since then, the initial cohort have been joined by nearly 100 more changemakers, all keen to be part of a vibrant and growing community of reps.

Close up of someone's hand writing on a board

But what exactly does being a changemaker involve?

“A changemaker is a rep who has stepped forward and made a commitment to share their stories, ideas and energy in ways that motivate and inspire others to be changemakers in their own workplaces,” explains Mairead. “They are passionate about building a common energy to effect positive change and have a strong level of commitment and enthusiasm for sharing their learning with others. Every rep has the potential to be a changemaker.”

Thinking differently

For Jayne Greenop, an RCN steward at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and one of the original 22, the changemaker initiative gives a name and recognition to what many reps already do.

“It’s certainly changed how I think about things,” says Jayne. “Most active reps are already changemakers, they just don’t realise it.”

RCN changemaker Jayne Greenop

Jayne Greenop

“We have a tendency to just go about our work without stopping to think about the difference we make. That’s what becoming a changemaker has made me realise. It makes you think differently about how you work and the effect you have on others, which makes you realise your value as a rep.”

Jayne says signing up has also provided her with new opportunities. “I was asked to go to RCN headquarters to speak to new staff about the work we do as reps. I think we sometimes assume people know what we do, but that’s not necessarily the case, so it’s important to put ourselves out there.”

Could you be a changemaker?

There are a number of benefits to signing up as an RCN changemaker, as Mairead explains.

“As an RCN changemaker you have the opportunity to join a community of reps who have made a commitment to sharing ideas and learning to inspire, improve and innovate. We will work with you to provide an online space for you to connect and share with one another, as well as ways of getting your stories out there to motivate and inspire others. We will also provide opportunities for you to share your ideas with us about how we can make changes to help you to be even more effective.”

Download The Value of Reps: In Our Own Words

Words by Tom Metcalf