Building a Culture of Collaboration Within Multilevel Systems
In our line of work, positive outcomes depend on the careful synergy of multiple systems. Because children’s health is influenced by a great many factors, simultaneously engaging systems at the community, city, state and government level is essential for significant change.
All too often we discover that two state agencies can be closely aligned on their goal, but working independently to reach it. When we work collaboratively instead, we’re able to pool, leverage and reinforce our resources for a common aim—a major benefit when such resources are often extremely limited.
A new e-course—NICHQ’s Essentials of Collaboration—provides strategies for healthy collaboration. One of the first steps is setting a clear aim, so that participants in an improvement project at all system levels know what they are working toward and understand their role in creating change. As we work to unite everyone around a common aim, team leaders should attempt to gain a complete picture of the context under which participants are currently working. Once they have a firm grasp on the specific assets and limitations of each system, leaders can provide teams with the right tools and resources to reach their goal.
When it comes to understanding the nuances of how a system operates, active listening can be incredibly powerful. Active listening is not only helpful in fostering the robust relationships at the heart of healthy collaboration; it may also shed light on the historical context of each system (as well as the areas where various systems intersect). Active listening can also bring about a shift in perspective that allows team leaders to guide collaboration more effectively. Rather than asking how to get participants fully engaged in the improvement process, for instance, we might frame the question as: “What do team members need from us so that they can fulfill their goals?” This subtle distinction helps in adopting a collaborative mindset.
Another key aspect of cultivating healthy collaboration is tuning into each participant’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Pinpointing weak spots can help you anticipate the necessary resources to support the team, while identifying and honoring a team member’s strengths can boost motivation and give projects fuel for long-lasting change. By capitalizing on people’s strengths, you grant them the opportunity to do what they most enjoy. And when people quickly see results from their work, they’re usually inspired to stay committed and even step up their efforts.
One Step Closer to the National Norm of Infant Safe Sleep and Breastfeeding
Consistent, evidence-based advice on safe sleep and breastfeeding, whether in a hospital or at home, could improve maternal and infant health outcomes, save babies’ lives, and address significant racial disparities. Learn how a national initiative is seizing every opportunity to support caregivers and babies by working with hospitals and prenatal care centers, social service agencies, and other community touch points across the country.
Improving Healthcare Environments for Vulnerable Newborns
NICUs provide life-saving care for preterm babies. But, they can also expose babies to a high level of chemicals at an especially vulnerable period of life. Here, learn about a first-of-its-kind study on the long-term impact of environmental exposures in the NICU.
How States Can Better Support Community Early Childhood Efforts
Providing families with comprehensive services that actually fit their needs starts by elevating the work at the community level to inform policy and program improvements. New York’s approach to synergizing state and community work offers a valuable framework for other states to take up in their own systems-change efforts.
Heath Equity: What You Can Do
Because not everyone has equal opportunity to the resources needed for health and well-being, disparities are pervasive right from the earliest years of life. But where does an individual start? How does one person make a dent in a systemic and structural problem? Find three ideas here.
How to Improve Health Systems for Families: One Mom's Investment in Change
In 2004, after experiencing severe preeclampsia, Tara Bristol Rouse quickly learned just how complicated the health system can be. Now, after 15 years of advocacy, she’s sharing making things easier for families across the nation.
Families Drive Better Outcomes in Children’s Health
Christy Blakely and Elizabeth Aquino both have daughters with special healthcare needs. And both went on to become passionate family partners, advocating for change in the health system. When you read their stories, you'll see that change is possible, thanks to the power of family voices.