End of the year reflections

mHabitat team

22nd December 2020

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Wishing you all a peaceful and safe Christmas!

Rather than buying Christmas cards or cluttering your inboxes with festive messages, we have decided to make a donation to Solidaritech and to share our seasonal reflections and gratitude through a collective blog.

We chose Solidaritech because digital inclusion is close to our hearts. Ben Mckenna and his team work tirelessly to help people who are living in incredibly difficult circumstances overcome the barrier of digital and data poverty. Do check out the organisation and if you can help them, please do, with donations of unwanted devices or cash donations.  

We are proud to be part of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the wider NHS family. Our heartfelt gratitude to all the incredible NHS and care workers across the country who could not have given more in the most difficult of circumstances. 

This year we pivoted our work to focus on how we can both get the most out of digital innovations to tackle health inequalities and to ensure that  nobody is excluded by the digital transformation of health and care. Our team grew and developed and we transformed the way we work so we can deliver all our services online and offline. 

We’ve been working with lots of different partners co-designing digital tools such as a brilliant project with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health Care Partnership to develop a digital tool which children and young people living with autism and others can use to share their social and communication needs with services. 

We’ve continued to work on MindWell Leeds, a mental health platform. It has really come into its own this year thanks to our incredible partners Nicola and the team at Volition and the carefully curated content and excellent communications they have developed in response to the pandemic. 

Building on one of our long term services, we have been working with Innovate UK, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, the Topol Fellows,  Oxford University and others to support people leading digital projects to embed them across health and care systems. 

We launched a Social Change Programme; Inclusive Digital Transformation. Using a blend of co-design and social change approaches we are working with NHSX, NHSE/I, Oxford University, Digibete, and a number of Academic Health Science Networks and Integrated Care Systems to explore how to ensure that people who are more digitally and socially excluded are not left behind as a result of digital transformation of health and care services.  

A huge thank you to all our colleagues, partners and associates. In difficult times, you have given us hope, so many talented and committed people across sectors, geographies and roles who genuinely care. Special thanks to Dawn Hanwell, Sara Munro and everyone behind the scenes at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and to Anne Cooper for all your support for mHabitat. 

Finally a heartfelt thank you to the incredibly talented, hardworking and kind team at mHabitat. You have dug deep and flourished in a really tough year. It has been a real privilege to work alongside you.   

Roz Davies, Managing Director


Personal reflections from the team

Jane Wood, Senior Creative Designer

As we all have felt, this year has been ‘different’. I’ve missed feeling the weather on my face and the air in my lungs on my cycle to work that abruptly transformed into the gruelling commute from bed to home office (loft) where I stare at myself through a screen, deskbound feet warm inside a double layer of socks as I try to imagine the off screen spaces of the homes I peer into.  My tiny lockdown life. It’s not all been bad (let’s not mention home schooling).  Over the past couple of years I have worked on and off on projects and found plenty of satisfaction from DIY in between using the ‘know how’ learnt from watching my dear Dad through the years. He is sadly no longer with us but in my thoughts daily. I am so thankful that he died when he did and that my family and I had the chance to be with him and say a goodbye in the way that he wanted.  As I’ve said, it’s not all bad, I’m getting to the good bit. In a conversation with my Dad over the kitchen table not long before he left us, as we reflected on our shared lives, he summed things up and one of his closing remarks was “ . . . . and you need to find a job that you enjoy”. He wasn’t wrong. I have been looking for a long time. The thing is, in this very different year, quite unexpectedly, I think I’ve found it in the ‘small and mighty’ team (credit Roz Davies) that is mHabitat. 

Sanah Ali, Evaluation and Evidence Lead

Despite 2020 being a challenging year, for me this year has been a year of change and growth. I started mHabitat just before the pandemic hit and was able to spend a month getting to know the team and settling in to my new role. Despite the rocky start, I can't complain.  It has been a year where I learnt how to skip for 3 whole minutes (quite an achievement for someone who can’t walk up a step without being out of breath), a year of growth for myself and the world (BLM movement), a year of stepping out of my comfort zone (speech on building diversity in digital health) and so much more! Most importantly, it’s been a year where I have felt full of gratitude. As cliché as this sounds, I couldn’t have done it without the team at mHabitat, we have laughed together, cried together and been through this crazy year as a real team making a difference where we can. 

Pete Nuckley, Deputy Director (Design and Delivery)

No one could have imagined 2020. I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of all my health and care colleagues through this year, their capacity for love, support, adaptation and help for EVERYONE during our worst times, astounds me. For those of us involved in making services better for everyone, we are convinced more than ever that NOW is the time for inclusive digital transformation. No one left behind! 

Kirstin Blackwell, User Researcher and Design Lead

2020 above all else, demonstrated to me the strength and resilience we hold as humans. It made me appreciate what I have, what I cherish and what I need above all else. There is so much I miss and can't wait to do again. But for now, I am pleased to say I'm a whizz with Zoom, I spend ~70% less time washing my hair each week, can do a proper burpee and just about cope without barista-made coffee. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have spent the year surrounded (albeit virtually) by inspiring people. From the mHabitat crew of smart, feisty, compassionate powerhouses who have allowed me space to be myself, heal and grow, to our colleagues across LYPFT and the NHS who deserve more recognition than can ever be put into words, our clients and project partners who have approached challenges with open eyes, flexibility, patience and curiosity, the gang of wonderful female leaders I have met through the Minerva Now programme and my fellow Girlguiding leaders with their Blue Peter level skills. A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has joined workshops and virtual sessions and given things a go with us. Video calls can be so draining at times but I always leave group sessions bouncier than my sprocker spaniel and that is thanks to all the fab people that turn up in those little boxes on my screen! Thanks for giving us your time, energy and thoughtful consideration. We owe everyone biscuits and brews when we can meet in person again. 

Francesca Quartarulli, PMO Team Manager

I would never in my life have imagined being alive during a global pandemic. Saying this sounds more like a trailer for a post-apocalyptic movie, but here we are. I have learned this year that despite the circumstances, our mission to try and make things better for people does not stop.  A small team (like ours) can achieve great things and as an Italian proverb says ‘la botte piccola fa il vino buono’ (the small barrel makes good wine).  The world needed a pandemic to realise that people can work flexibly and from home (which are two different things). It turns out people can work efficiently from home and adapt incredibly quickly. Experiencing and seeing how resilient, kind and supportive people are, especially the people I work with, as we lifted one another up in incredible ways. I never felt I had been left on my own, even if we weren’t working in the same room. Introspection and vulnerability are powerful tools and I think this year I had plenty of time and ways to work on them, especially thanks to the Minerva Leadership course I am doing. The silver lining of the pandemic for me was seeing the humanity, adaptability and commitment of people to do their best every day, in such difficult times. 

Gemma Wormald, Occupational Therapist and Co-design Link and Facilitator

This year I made the decisions to move from a world that I knew and loved to a brave new digital world. The move away from Dementia Inpatients, brought exciting new skills, amazing new opportunities and not to mention a swanky new environment, where I am loving the teeny tiny microscopic chance that I will sit in bodily fluids so I can wear my 98 dresses (I counted them during 1st lockdown – there may be more now!!) Wow – the things I learnt this year – the mind blowing ability to write on a document at the same time as someone else!!!! That non clinicians don’t talk about bodily fluids or functions at all times, that PPE soon becomes the norm and that I had made a really good decision in moving on despite my initial fears. Six weeks into wearing dressesI volunteered to be redeployed back to Dementia Inpatients as I could see the tidal wave coming and it would be all hands on deck. It was back to tunics and bodily fluids for the next 6 months. There have been many harrowing stories about Covid in hospitals across the media, but my experience of working on the frontline within a pandemic was some of the most amazing/funny/heart-warming/knackering/team building/caring times I have ever encountered. A massive Thank you goes out to everyone at The Mount in Leeds who gave their absolute all to ensure everyone through the doors received the best care.

Gemma Lee,  Events and Marketing Administrator

Looking back at the crazy year we've all been through the one thing that stands out the most to me is how all the bad things that happened in the world brought our new mHabitat team closer together. We really got thrown in at the deep end when the first lockdown hit and worked extremely hard to completely change the way we work in a mostly brand new team, we did it! I'm so proud to work with such an amazing group of people who make everyday fun!

Alison Braithwaite, Deputy Director (Business and Events)

I have genuinely loved seeing our mHabitat team flourish into something beautiful and wonderful with the best of people I could hope to work with. In no particular order, a few words from me about our wonderful team...

Fran - you’re my oldest mHabitat buddy.  I love your vulnerability, Italian expression and dogged determination to get through the toughest times.

Roz - you gave us hope and ray of sunshine.  You are feisty, inspirational and so considerate of everyone’s contribution, wellbeing and contentment in the team.

Kirstin - you are calming and caring and someone you know will be there for you, whatever the storm (project) brings.

Gemma W. - you’ve had the toughest deal (being redeployed and then back to the team), and you’ve come back smiling and in the meantime you’ve been frontline caring for those who need you most.

Gemma L. - You’ve come into our team as a (almost silent) CSN host and flourished into a fabulous force of nature - you have no idea how much it means to have reliable and ‘happy’ support when you’re stressed out or super busy - you’re a star.

Sanah - you are the most serene person I have ever worked with, kind of nature and a fantastic can do, want to do attitude.  You’ve got a lot of shining still to come, keep giving us all you have.

Jane - an adopted and now integral part of our team, you’ve delivered wonderful results from difficult, and through difficult, circumstances. Long may you stay part of our huddle.

Cheeky Pete - what can I say…… our token guy. I adore your honesty, smiles, humour and everything wonderful you bring to our team - a rich blend of knowledge and silliness ;)

mHabitat team