Category: Blogs

Mission Education

To empower this, we built up the Child to Child mission educational programs to enable youngsters to end up “mission disapproved” as they take after God’s call to serve others in adoration.

Every portion in the Child to Child educational modules arrangement contains five finish lesson designs loaded with thoughts for adapting together, including:

Book of scriptures lessons

Fun classroom exercises

Wellbeing and survival actualities about Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Stories about children who are a piece of our wellbeing programs

Thoughts for mission ventures

Gathering petitions

… and the sky is the limit from there!

Every session likewise offers data about Haiti or the Dominican Republic with the goal that instructors and understudies can find more about the history, culture, dialect and living states of these close-by island countries.

The instructive reasoning of Learn and Play Christian Early Learning Center is God-focused and underpins our announcement of confidence and statement of purpose. We trust that every tyke is interesting and made in the picture of God. Consequently, every kid is acknowledged, respected and cherished.

Our point is to fuse Biblical standards all through all learning openings and give a Christian viewpoint of the world. We immovably trust that the adoration for Christ can be experienced right on time in a youngster’s advancement. Our group of early youth instructors endeavors to utilize formatively proper works on, concentrating on the tyke’s social, passionate, scholarly, otherworldly, physical and tasteful development.

Little class sizes take into consideration individualized accomplishment amid entire class, educator coordinated guideline. Kid coordinated movement focuses, advanced with hands-on encounters, draw in every youngster’s common interest and support investigation of God’s reality at a kid’s own particular pace.

While we trust that training is the obligation of guardians, Learn and Play works agreeably with guardians to execute the procedure of a Christian instruction. As a Christian Early Learning Center, we respect an assorted variety of kids who can encounter God’s adoration, develop in it, and convey it into the world.

Cultivating Mindfulness

It’s been great to read your feedback on our blog. Several of you mentioned being interested in the concept of mindfulness and the challenges of practicing mindfulness when the busyness of life gets in the way.

As I was thinking about this mindfulness blog, everywhere I looked I saw resources for mindfulness! It was as if the universe was telling me that this was a timely blog to write. I also took some time to reflect on my background—my father is a professor of Asian religions, specifically an expert in Theravada Buddhism. I grew up going to school in Thailand during his sabbatical years and we were often around Buddhist monks, who are certainly experts in practicing mindfulness! So, I’m particularly interested in how all of us can practice mindfulness in our daily lives—especially when our lives are hectic, filled with noise, challenges, hundreds of emails and pings from social media, work and school pressures, and the myriad of life’s issues that can impede our ability to stop….quiet our minds….and practice mindfulness.

The good news is that there are many resources to help us all understand and practice mindfulness. As Jerry Braza writes, “mindfulness is the practice of becoming fully aware of each moment and one’s experiences of that moment.” In his book, Moment by moment, Dr. Braza shares ten strategies for developing mindfulness in work, school, and home:

Let go

  1. Open your heart
  2. Simplify
  3. Forgive
  4. Be mindful
  5. Breathe!
  6. Speak from your heart
  7. Think health
  8. Appreciate others
  9. Look deeply

Another book that I’ve found particularly helpful is Manuela Reeds’ book, 8 keys to practicing mindfulness: Practical strategies for emotional health and well-being. In this book, Manuela shares these 8 strategies:

Meet the present moment

  1. Start where you are
  2. Slow down
  3. Befriend your body
  4. Trust your sensations, tame your emotions
  5. Ride through tough times
  6. Cultivate inner calmness
  7. Choose abundance


The System

I spend a lot of time reading NHS-related news articles, blogs, Tweets and op-eds. Most of these pieces, regardless of audience or exposure, are addressing present problems within the health service and most seek a solution to these problems. And many of the pieces present the idea that they have it all cracked. Literally, the entire NHS can be made good again in one 800-or-so word blog. Except for one thing.

“The System.”

Consensus is, naturally, rare in a service that employs nearly one in every fifty members of the English population alone, but The System seems to create allies – even in a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of way – whenever, or wherever it is mentioned.

The System, in case you’re wondering is not an Orwellian-government department, but is the thing that most people hold as responsible for creating barriers to organisational and individual development, improvement and change in the NHS.

It’s not a physical presence, but the actions of The System certainly manifest themselves in physical ways. It’s why compassion towards patients goes missing; it’s why new ideas get left behind on the desk at home – not even making it to the drawing board; it’s why thirty per cent of staff strongly disagree that their workplace is open, honest and challenging.

It’s more a cultural issue than anything else. Imagine a football club sitting relatively happily in a mid-table position but with a troop of stern-faced accountants always looming over them, pointing at balance and cash flow sheets showing the club is destined for bankruptcy. There’s a nagging sense of doubt and fear.

That doubt and fear is The System.

I think it is, therefore it is

Except, while everyone agrees that The System exists, no one is entirely sure how The System actually works or why it has emerged.

Some believe that The System is a nefarious, bureaucratic guillotine hanging over everyone in the NHS with good intentions. It’s the paperwork, administration and finance that stops good things happening.

Others believe that change has become impossible because the NHS is so large and complex. It’s because there are so many overlapping networks, processes and mechanisms all working within the NHS that accessing any areas for change has become impossible.

Others are convinced that The System is the sum of the NHS’ parts, and therefore it can only be destroyed by a dissolution of the NHS’ present organisational state. It’s the large, cumbersome and complicated organisations that kill this sort of change. Even having a complete top-down reorganisation of the NHS would fail to stop The System.

Many believe that the NHS’ current political-football status has created a feeling of anxiety and uncertainty for staff and potential change-makers. The NHS, they believe has actually ceased to become an entity due to the different ways in which different aspects of the service function. It’s become so bad, that the NHS is now a set of values and principles more than an actual health service.

Whatever you want

Destroying The System, or any noun for that matter is hard work. And, when working with organisations like the NHS it gets harder the further you travel up the chain of command.

But a good place to start is making change directly where people work – and then pushing these changes upwards. It won’t be easy, but if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Targeted interventions for change, across disciplines and hierarchies, which focus on how people feel when they work would help to create better working environments, which lead to better patient experiences.

Innovations which change the way patients feel are largely determined by what staff do – and the actions of staff are largely determined by how they feel. If staff experiences are improved, patient experiences will also improve, and vice versa. Patients would receive better outcomes, their families wouldn’t be worrying, staff wouldn’t be scared when the inspectorate(s) come.

William Edwards Deming said that “A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future.”

To improve its system, the NHS needs to work out what it wants to be. Does it want to deliver integrated care? When we hear talk of innovation, what is it in aid of? Does it want to be a world-leader in pioneering medicine, or does it want to sort you out with a cold? Does it want to be both? Does it need to be paperless, or does it just need to get a handle on what it’s doing at the moment?

Being free at the point of access, isn’t the aim of the NHS, because it already is (mostly). Being free is the method. The aim should be making sure that patients are treated, whether their conditions are episodic or chronic and are treated by staff who are compassionate, caring and happy. It’s only when the NHS works out what it wants to be, which won’t be easy either, that it be able to push on and really become the world-beating system we all know it can be.

Look on the bright side

There are, in spite of The System, examples of people creating change around the service. Over 95 NHS organisations are now running Schwartz Rounds to help improve culture, the #Hellomynameis campaign has become enormously successful, and Salford Royal, along with other trusts, continue to lead the way in re-designing care around patients whilst maintaining a supportive and open culture for staff.

Change can be made, it will often be hard, but that does not mean we should give up in the face of The System.

A Front Row Seat To Kindness

Introducing the Cups of Kindness Collection

Six months ago, our Executive Director Maya Enista Smith shared the story, below, of a fundamentally simple but deeply human act of kindness that she witnessed at her local Starbucks.

Today, we’re so excited to announce that Born This Way Foundation and our Co-Founder Lady Gaga are teaming up with Starbucks to spread that message of kindness even further. We share a belief that our communities are strongest when we treat one another with compassion, respect, and generosity and we want to inspire music lovers, coffee drinkers, and everyone in between to put that philosophy into action.

So to kick off this partnership, Starbucks is launching the Cups of Kindness collection – four delicious and colorful drinks inspired and approved by our very own Lady Gaga. For every drink purchased between June 13th and June 19th, 25 cents will go towards Born This Way Foundation and our work to build a kinder, braver world.

So head to your local Starbucks and enjoy a Cup of Kindness today! You’ll be helping to support Born This Way Foundation programs like Channel Kindness and the idea that kindness can be a force for good.

It’s pouring rain in Northern California and I’m just sitting down to start an action-packed day of work, preparing for #KickOffForKindness and planning an epic Year Of Kindness. I – of course – have my coffee with me; that coffee is one of the few things I’ll leave my office for today.

My job is kindness, and it’s incredible. In 2017, I’ve committed to thinking about kindness beyond the fact that I’m lucky to have it as the number one deliverable on my work plan; how is the world kinder because of your work today? I’d love to expand the answer to that question and think about what it means for me as a mom, as a community member, as a wife, as a friend?

We’re only 10 days into the year but I want to share a lesson I learned today in hopes that it reminds you to not only think about kindness, look for kindness and practice kindness, but also to acknowledge kindness in others.

Yesterday, on my daily coffee run at my neighborhood Starbucks I ran into my good friend Heidi.

Heidi’s beautiful three year old daughter is undergoing brain surgery tomorrow to remove tubers that are causing seizures in her little body. Heidi’s daughter bounced around Starbucks and asked me (as she usually does) if she could have a cookie. I know what cookies can do to three year olds at 10 AM, but this time I didn’t even look at Heidi for permission. I picked her up and asked her to point to the cookie she wanted and as we waited in line to pay for the cookie, I gestured to Gina (the manager at Starbucks) that this little girl was having brain surgery tomorrow.

I mouthed, mother to mother, ‘can you even imagine?’ Gina and I shook our heads at each other and she handed the little girl her cookie.

I left Starbucks, hugged Heidi, waved at Gina and went to work.

An hour later, I received a text from Heidi with a beautiful picture of her daughter, hugging a Starbucks bear. She wrote, “Your baristas are the best.”

Gina had given her a bear to keep her company in the hospital and with that bear, Gina gave Heidi kindness, acknowledgement and recognition of her incredible strength and courage.

I told my husband the story, I shared in Heidi’s joy as she treasured the unexpected but much appreciated act of kindness from a stranger ahead of a difficult, uncertain time. I kept this story of kindness to myself, mostly.

This morning, I stood in line at the same Starbucks to order the same coffee from the same friendly faces. Gina asked me urgently, when would I know about the surgery? Did they need anything else? She had just been talking to her District Manager (who was seated at a corner table in the store) about the little girl and how much it had moved her to meet her. I promised her I would keep her updated and thanked her for the cup of coffee. I got in my car, preoccupied by the Super Bowl or another memo I had to write, and thought about this story that had just unfolded at this store over the past two days.

The strangers who had been kind to me, to my friend, to each other and had done so without the expectation of anything in return. Only I had the full picture of the depth of Heidi’s fear around the surgery, the joy that Gina’s simple action had brought her daughter and the genuine concern Gina had for the child of a stranger. I sat in the driver seat and took out a business card and wrote a note to the District Manager. I went back into the rain, ran into the store and handed her the card without a word and ran back out.

Now, I have a lot of work to do and writing this blog has taken up a chunk of my morning but it was worth it. I had a front row seat to kindness this week, and I want to tell you about it and I hope you’ll look for it and tell me about it.

Lady Gaga: Substitute Teacher

Most of us had the occasional substitute teacher in school, but we bet they were never quite like the one that came to this Los Angeles classroom:

Today we are thrilled to unveil this important message starring our very own co-founder, Lady Gaga, as part of our partnership with Staples and! Check out the video – and share it with your friends and family! – to see how Lady Gaga brought an extra dose of kindness with her when she visited a middle school earlier this month.

Staples, through their Staples for Students program, helps to make sure students have the materials and resources they need to learn and teachers across America use to fund projects that address their students’ needs. Together, we’re teaming up to support positive school climates and inspire kinder classrooms.

According to a report by Sesame Workshop, 86% of teachers and 70% of parents say they worry often that the world is an unkind place for children. Born This Way Foundation, Staples, and believe we can change that, starting with our schools.

Just check out these amazing projects teachers are hoping to fund to inspire their students to be kinder and support their emotional wellness:

Help Mrs. Johnson in West Valley City, Utah provide her middle school class and their families with books that with reinforce the theme “kindness matters.”
Help Mrs. B in Menlo Park, California inspire her students to express their feelings through journaling.
Help Ms. Bolton in Rockford, IL create a classroom that supports her preschoolers social and emotional development through fun and interactive activities.
Help Mrs. Trombly in Lowell, Massachusetts provide her special needs students with resources to support their unique emotional needs.

Making Connections

Mary Agnew, Deputy Director in the Francis Implementation Team, writes about how senior civil servants in the Department of Health are getting closer to the front-line.

I recently observed my first Schwartz Round. The theme was ‘making connections’; the panel spoke movingly of individual patients who had affected them deeply, living on in their memories. This opened a facilitated discussion about how staff cope when, as one nurse put it, ‘Sometimes, it’s just too sad’.

Staff spoke of finding the balance that enabled them to be friendly without becoming friends. They talked of patients they had known over months or years and confronting their own feelings of loss, they told of balancing professional distance with an empathic human connection. The Round provided a safe supportive space to talk about the very personal and difficult aspects of giving compassionate care day after day, week after week, year upon year.

The Department of Health has a new programme to improve its own connections with patients and staff, to understand better the day-to-day realities of health and care. Senior civil servants now spend four weeks a year in placements provided by around 100 partner organisations – across all health sectors local government, and the third sector. The programme is expanding to cover policy teams: you can follow its progress through the Connecting blog.

The Connecting initiative – ground-breaking in Whitehall for its scale and ambition – was conceived in response to Robert Francis’ critique that the Department was ‘too remote’ and in recognition of the Department’s changed role in the health and care landscape. No longer the headquarters of the NHS, DH is now the ‘system steward’, responsible for setting the overall strategic and legislative framework, and accountable for ensuring its arms-length organisations work with common purpose. We no longer have many staff with direct experience as clinicians or managers in the service, though of course DH staff are patients too and the carers and families of patients. (My arrival at DH coincided with learning I had a 50% chance of being on dialysis in 10 years’ time. I, like many of my colleagues, have always viewed the NHS – at least in part – through a patient’s eyes.)

Some commentators were initially sceptical about the programme: would it make any tangible difference? Of course, many policy makers routinely visit the types of services they have responsibility for. But Connecting is on a different scale and, though still early days, is already changing the mood music of the Department, challenging implicit assumptions, and re-galvanising staff around our core purpose – to support people to live better for longer.

What is different about Connecting is that it’s an immersive experience and gives a real chance to go behind the scenes, to ask the stupid questions, to talk to porters and healthcare assistants rather than Chief Executives, to reflect and learn. And it’s different because it’s geared towards seeing the full range of services, so it challenges any tendencies towards a silo-ed approach to policy development. Slowly but surely, it is shifting the nature of the conversations in the ‘corridors of power’.

So far, I’ve done three placements: at North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, focusing on their mental health services, at Central London Community Healthcare Trust, and at University College London NHS Foundation Trust. I spent time in a wide range of services, sitting in on consultations, handovers and multidisciplinary team meetings. I glimpsed the challenges of bringing together the right services and support for each individual: the young man feeling suicidal after a relationship breakdown; the witty, strident teenager with complex disabilities; the older man with frailty, confusion and blindness delayed in the emergency department; the unborn child who would need early surgery to repair her heart. I saw anger, pain, fear and sadness, and the health impact of homelessness, domestic abuse, and drug and alcohol misuse. And I saw joy, humour, relief and gratitude: the teenager still cancer-free two years on from her battle with leukaemia; the excitement of the woman in the early stages of labour with her much longed for IVF twins.

Connecting has been a challenging and humbling experience, sometimes personally difficult; several of the people I met will stay with me for a long time. What stands out is a focus on safety and improving the quality of care, delivered through impressive teamwork and often with extraordinary kindness. It reminds me why I come to work and challenges me to do my job better. As civil servants, we’re typically expected to be dispassionate and detached. Connecting allows us freedom to care, space to learn away from the tyranny of urgent emails, and an invitation to question and innovate. For partners, it dispels some of the myths about what we do and allows their staff to tell us and show us ‘how it really is’. A foolhardy few have spent time shadowing us in return, though I fear our days are usually much duller. Only time will tell whether our policy is demonstrably the better because of Connecting, but the cultural shift has firmly begun.

If your organisation would like to join our growing network of partners, you can find out more by emailing With my team, I have been complementing these Connecting placements with visits to Trusts to talk about progress and challenges in implementing the Francis Inquiry. We’d love to hear about your experiences.

We should see acute hospitals as places for healing

In this blog, Jocelyn Cornwell explores the possibilities for change if clinicians, managers and boards defined hospital wards as places of healing and caring instead of simply a ‘medical workplace’.

What is an acute medical ward for? Who defines its purpose and value?

Instead of the prevailing definition of the ward as a medical workplace, it would be better defined as a place for healing, where pain and distress can be eased by caring professionals. When value is defined from the supply side alone, it tends to ignore the relational and non-clinical aspects of care that are critical to patients’ mental and emotional wellbeing and recovery.

A broader definition of value would recognise how illness affects patients; it is unsettling, induces anxiety and fear, and makes us vulnerable. Carel, with experience of a life-threatening, chronic condition, observes, ‘Illness changes everything. It changes not only my internal organs, but my relationship to my body, my relationship to others, their relation to me and to my body… In short, illness changes how one is in the world.’

Admission to hospital may bring relief, but it increases vulnerability. Sweeney and colleagues describe it in this way: ‘Every patient that comes through a hospital is apprehensive. It’s a strange place, you have strange sheets, you have odd tea in a plastic cup. The whole thing is vibrantly different.’

For patients, the hospital environment is always unfamiliar: on admission, they lose their autonomy, their right to move, eat and drink at will, to sleep or wake up, and to choose their own company. Adults find themselves dependent on others for help with the most basic issues of hygiene and personal care. As McCrum puts it in My year off: rediscovering life after a stroke, ‘Being a patient is, as the word implies, totally passive. You are dependent upon the nurses; you are always saying thank you and falling in with nurses’ jokey routines. If you don’t, you become a “bad” patient to be punished in all kinds of subtle but unmistakable ways.’

Feeling dependent and exposed in this way makes patients constantly aware of the power that (all) staff have over them and makes them acutely sensitive to the feeling and tone of all interactions.

A doctor who attended my father… was extremely rude. [We] had been told that my father needed hourly checks but this wasn’t happening on the Sunday. When my mum mentioned this to the doctor she snapped, ‘there is no way anyone would have approved that.’ It was very unsettling.
(Anonymous, daughter, The Point of Care Foundation website)

Staff do not intend patients to suffer, far from it, but patients are inadvertently exposed to shame and humiliation; to distress, when their requests are ignored or overridden; to anxiety, about being kept in the dark, and about discontinuities and contradictory information; and to fear, when they are unable to trust caregivers.

If wards were re-defined as places for healing, recovery and care, staff would aim to reduce and eliminate all avoidable suffering. The quality of relational care would have equal priority to clinical quality and patient safety, and changes in the physical environment, the conduct of staff and the organisation of care would follow.

Staff would be aware of themselves as ‘on stage’ when in sight or earshot of patients and visitors, and act accordingly. They would always introduce themselves by name and explain their role to patients. They would be curious about patients’ wants and needs, and would strive to have equal discussions about the goals of treatment. They would welcome visitors.

They would trust managers to support them when they made changes to benefit patients and to act on their concerns about anything in the physical environment, relationships with colleagues or resources that could be detrimental for patients.

The managers’ primary task would be to enable staff to be at their best and to deliver the best care possible. They would be sure to spend time on the wards themselves to observe staff interacting with patients; they would look for evidence of human touches in patients’ care and see their absence as red flags, signals that the team climate might need attention. They would make sure that staff had access to patient feedback and were equipped with the tools and techniques that would refresh their awareness of the patients’ experiences and enable them to make improvements. They would help staff to reduce time-wasting activities and insist on them observing breaks.

Members of the executive team would not leave the quality of relational care to chance but would see their role as identifying and dismantling systemic obstacles to good care. They would aim to protect and increase the time that frontline staff spend with patients, by reducing the administrative load and culling top-down demands for information. Accepting that surveys have their limitations, they would seek multiple sources of intelligence about the quality of care and listen to the views and opinions of patients and staff.

They would invest in developing the people skills and offer all staff opportunities for reflective practice and self-care. They would constantly monitor staffing levels, staff engagement and staff wellbeing, and delegate as much control down the line as possible. Finally, they would invite patients and families to contribute to definitions of value, and ask them to collaborate in service design and improvement and to participate as equals, alongside the professionals, in the workings of the hospital.

Free Back To School Shopping Spree

Preparing for back to school can be hard on teachers financially, but Friends of Materials for the Arts is aiming to help local New York City educators access school supplies. This organization collects materials, that would otherwise end up as garbage, and makes them available to teachers to use in their classrooms. We love this creative way to reduce waste and help teachers create vibrant, kind classrooms!

Learn more about Friends of Materials for the Arts and also check out our partnership with Staples to see how you can get involved with helping a teacher today!

In preparation for the start of the 2017/2018 school year, Materials for the Arts hosts a Back to School Shopping Spree for NYC public school teachers. The best part about it is that everything is free! We know that the few months leading up to the beginning of a new school year can be filled with challenges as families and educators alike try to collect and purchase supplies with limited budgets.

With that in mind, we make an extra special effort to provide traditional and nontraditional materials to our members from early August through the end of September. All of our materials can be used in hands-on projects, school productions, and concerts. While our materials are available all year round, here’s how you can help us put a smile on the faces of our dedicated NYC teachers.

There are three simple ways you can contribute to a fantastic new school year:

Make a contribution to Friends of Materials for the Arts
Your support will help to fund our donations operation and help us to pick up materials from businesses throughout New York City who have agreed to donate their surplus items.

Drop-off donations
Are you no longer using that sewing machine or those art supplies? You can drop off your unwanted items three days a week from 9 am – 3 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at our Long Island City warehouse. You can e-mail us at and tell us what you have. Just to be safe check out this list of items we don’t accept.

Get your community involved
Encourage your office, school or local community to become active reuse and sustainability partners by organizing a drive to collect unwanted items. Then arrange to drop them off at Materials for the Arts. If you live outside of New York City, share them with schools and non-profits in your area.

Patients and staff: a truly special relationship

Joanna Goodrich and Catherine Dale went to the IHI’s co-design college earlier this year to build delegates’ skills and confidence in co-design. In this blog, Joanna reflects back on the experience.

Last month I had the privilege of going to Boston to teach for two days at the IHI’s Co-Design College along with Catherine Dale, one of our Associates at The Point of Care Foundation. Catherine led our first co-design project with us in cancer services, trains regularly with us, and co-wrote the Experience Based Co-Design toolkit.

Delegates came from all over the USA and from Canada to learn about co-designing health services with patients. Our goal was that they would go away with the skills and confidence to teach and champion this new way of working in their own organisations. Alongside us, the faculty included experts from the IHI and the Veterans Administration.

Over the two days we introduced and practised using tools from EBCD, the Veterans Administration’s human-centred design methods and the IHI’s Always Events framework. At the heart was an emphasis on finding ways to understand the experience of care through the patient’s eyes, and then to work with patients to find solutions and to test and implement them. We offered a range of tools to gather information: observation; shadowing; interviewing to gather patients’ stories; using personas and scenarios; trigger films; and journey mapping with emotional touchpoints. We also offered ways of creating ideas for improvement and how to prototype and test them.

But more is needed than just these tools. Co-design is a change process, and it therefore requires a shift in our mindset. Patients and staff must work together as equals, and their different skills and knowledge must be recognised as equally valuable.

For me, the highlight of the two days was the amazing contribution made by Tiffany Christansen. Tiffany spoke for an hour at the very beginning about her experience as a patient with cystic fibrosis who has had not one, but two, double lung transplants. Her story was shocking, and funny, and full of emotional touchpoints which taught us all how small things in our experience of care can stay with us forever, and make a huge difference both positively and negatively. You can take a look at Tiffany’s story here. Tiffany brings this experience to her professional work as Patient and Family Engagement Specialist at the North Carolina Quality Center; she is in what must be a fairly unique position, being able to advocate for both patients and staff in her work.

We finished the two days with the Shark Tank (our Dragons’ Den) exercise – not as scary as it sounds! It was wonderful to hear teams pitch the co-design projects they are planning. They included work to improve experience for children going through haemo-oncology services, in rural primary care together with a children’s hospital, in community mental health, in cardiac services, in intensive care and in ED to tackle violence on staff. Teams talked about the tools they would try and how they would go about changing mindsets.

The Co-Design College was a first for the IHI and there was a clear sense from everyone there that co-design is an exciting and logical next step on the quality improvement journey.

Foundation Blogs Round-Up: Social Determinants Of Health, Kansas Medicaid, And More

Data Analytics In Health Care (And Baseball)

“Bringing Moneyball to Medicine,” by Andy Bindman of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on the California Health Care Foundation’s blog, February 15. Bindman, who is now a professor of medicine, health policy, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UCSF, directed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) from May 2016 until the conclusion of the Obama administration. In this post (and when he was at AHRQ), Bindman uses the example of the movie Moneyball (which is about baseball) to make his point about how data analytics help. He says, “It was my way of pointing out how major league sports have integrated data analytics into their workflow to improve team performance,” and he adds that there’s “a parallel opportunity for us in health care.” In medicine, Bindman says, “We need to base our decisionmaking less on limited direct experience and more on data analytics that can be applied to our routine clinical workflow.” The blogger’s comparison is apt now that Major League Baseball’s Spring Training is upon us!

Environmental Health

“HEFN’s [Health and Environmental Funders Network] 2016 Year in Review,” by Kathy Sessions, HEFN’s director, on its Giving InSight blog, January 9. Sessions first mentions the organization’s new mission: “mobilizing philanthropy to accelerate solutions for environmental health and justice.” Other highlights of the year include seeing enactment of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act; HEFN’s emerging focus on drinking water, catalyzed by the crisis in Flint, Michigan, and related media coverage; HEFN’s project on health and equity issues related to climate change; the peer-reviewed Health Affairs article written by Sessions and coauthors titled “Foundations Invest in Environmental Health”; and more.

Health Reform

“Keeping Perspective during Turbulent Times,” by David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, on its To the Point blog, February 7. Blumenthal begins his post by saying, “At times of dramatic change in a nation’s history, fear and anxiety can become pervasive and overwhelming.” He does not specify what dramatic change he is referring to, but one can read between the lines. He then points out that a variety of events in US history, such as World War II, have “challenged the viability of our democracy,” but somehow the country was resilient and survived. The role of preserving American values and institutions, though, falls to nongovernmental organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, charities, and philanthropy, Blumenthal says.


“Kansans Deserve Better from KanCare,” by Sheldon Weisgrau, director of the Health Reform Resource Project, on the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City’s Local Health Buzz Blog, February 20. Weisgrau explains that federal audits, conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have brought to light—for the general public, state legislators, and the media—the problems with KanCare (Kansas Medicaid), although others “have been sounding the alarm for years.” Weisgrau says KanCare “is beset by administrative and operational problems that threaten the health and safety of its beneficiaries, [who are] among the most vulnerable” in the Sunflower State. There is even an ongoing failure to enroll people in a timely manner. Although “the state has submitted plans of correction to the federal government,” Weisgrau suggests what more is needed.

The Topeka-based Health Reform Resource Project “is an initiative to provide education and technical assistance on health reform and policy in Kansas,” according to its Twitter feed. The project is funded by Kansas Grantmakers In Health, comprised of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Kansas Health Foundation, United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, and Wyandotte Health Foundation.

Interestingly, the Kansas House recently approved Medicaid expansion for the state, according to the February 23 Wichita Eagle. The bill goes on to a state Senate committee for hearings.

Social Determinants Of Health

“Making Communities Healthier Means Improving Health, Not Just Healthcare,” by Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF), on its V1sion Blog, February 6. Using the example of Angel, a child with severe and recurring asthma, Marks says that in both Texas and the broader United States, “when faced with population health crises like childhood asthma or heart disease,” authorities have responded the same way they would “if they were communicable diseases, by pouring more money” into health care, such as treatments. However, these are chronic conditions that one cannot “catch.” For example, addressing environmental conditions where Angel lives “may be the most effective prescription” for him. Marks notes that the “EHF is dedicated to going beyond the doctor’s office and supporting solutions that address the underlying causes of poor health in Texas” and has joined several other funders in supporting the BUILD Health Challenge.

Read more about BUILD in my GrantWatch column in the February 2017 issue of Health Affairs and in a February 16 Health Affairs Blog post by Amy Slonim of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

“Healthier Lives: Our Plans for 2017,” by Jo Bibby, director of strategy at the Health Foundation in London, United Kingdom, on its blog, January 27. This British charity wants “to see a change in the conversation around health.” Bibby says that the Health Foundation hopes “to raise awareness of the wider determinants of health. . . .and build an understanding of health as an asset.” In summer 2017, the funder will call for research to explore how good health contributes to economic and social development. She comments that we know less about this than “about the economic costs of poor health.” If policy makers had “a better understanding of this evidence” on the value of good health, perhaps they would “take a longer term, ‘investment’ perspective on building health by tackling” problems with its wider determinants (such as education, housing, and jobs) “rather than solely treating illness,” she maintains.

Bibby also mentioned that the Health Foundation has been working with the RWJF and learning from its efforts ‘to build a culture of health.” In addition, the Health Foundation will conduct “a two-year inquiry to understand the future health prospects of young people.” Read more here.

tags: environmental health, health philanthropy, health reform, nonmedical determinants, social determinants of health