Students impress Health sector bosses at USW Careers Enterprise Challenge

Final year students from Health and Social Care Management and Community Health and Wellbeing degree schemes recently rose to the challenge of addressing a very real problem faced by the NHS in Wales. 

Co-ordinated by USW Careers Enterprise Team with Course Leader Owain Jones  and based on an original idea from BBC Radio 4’s The Fix programme the USW Innovation Challenge brought industry and academia together to consider solutions for addressing poor mental health amongst staff in the healthcare sector. The all day activity was part funded by the Welsh Government’s Youth Entrepreneurship initiative which aims to develop ‘enterprising mind-sets’ through projects like USW’s Innovation Challenge. 

Innovation Challenge was facilitated by Simply Do Ideas and led by Senior Business Partner, Joseph Murphy. Joseph and his team led five groups of students through a series of high intensity creative problem solving exercises aimed at encouraging individuals to step outside their comfort zones and increase levels of confidence and communication. Post event feedback results indicated a significant rise in confidence around communication, enterprise and problem solving amongst all student participants. Commenting on the students’ performance during the day Joseph said  ‘The energy, creativity and sector knowledge on show was really impressive’ while student participant Ross said ‘it opened my mind and reinforced my current business ideas within the field of mental health support’.  

The five student teams pitched their innovative solutions to industry panellists Martin Semple,  Nursing Officer for Welsh Government, Nigel Downes, Associate Director of Professional Practice Royal College of Nursing and Stephen Jones, Dept Unit Nurse Director. They were joined by USW’s Sharon Jones, Director of Student Services and Owena Simpson, ASM/Head of Collaborative Provision. All five panellists agreed that it was a tough decision choosing an overall winner with ideas ranging from the development of a ‘wellbeing monitoring app’ to the introduction of a ‘wellbeing hour’ for staff. They finally opted for the team recommending a reintroduction of the ‘shift handover hour’. Commenting on the student team contributions Judging Chair Martin Semple said ‘they were really innovative and creative, so impressive to see students understanding what the real issues are within the health sector. Further commenting on the value to the NHS, Stephen Jones added ‘students have presented us with takeaway ideas and concepts that we can look at implementing in local services’.       

Sian, a student on the winning team said – ‘we were really pleased to be chosen as the winners. The day was challenging with lots of collaboration and discussion. It was so good to hear eachother’s ideas and perspectives even though they were all different. Being put under pressure and pushed out of our comfort zones was worth it….we would not have achieved what we did without it! We’d like to thank all the staff involved’. 

USW’s organising team are currently in further discussions with Simply Do to move the winning idea through to ‘Innovation Sprint’ stage creating a plan to test the ‘shift handover hour’ and ensure its future implementation starts to become a reality. 

A short video capturing the day’s highlights filmed and edited by FCI graduates Luke Walters and Robin Sparrow-Biggs of Cinescope.


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