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Investing in the future for nursing and midwifery: shaping the health and care agenda together

As we launch our 2024-28 strategic plan, RCN Foundation Director, Deepa Korea, shares her thoughts and how it came to be. 

Many of us will know the old adage attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that you have to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Whilst he may not have actually used those exact words, the sentiment is clear – if we want the world to be a better place, we shouldn’t wait for others to make it so but rather, take on the initiative and responsibility to do so ourselves.

Charities which set about developing their organisational strategies, no matter their size, cause or age, do so with the intention of establishing a greater sense of direction, identifying clear objectives to work towards and ultimately, articulating how they will make the world a better place for their beneficiaries. The RCN Foundation’s new strategy sets out clearly how the charity will aim to achieve its mission to support and strengthen nursing and improve the health and wellbeing of the public.

With the UK’s health and care systems facing significant and varied pressures, the role of the Foundation in bring about positive change for nursing, midwifery, health and social care, is needed more than ever.

In developing the RCN Foundation’s strategic plan for the five-year period 2024-28, we began our journey back in September 2022, with a discussion at a Trustees Awayday. I am privileged to work with a skilled, knowledgeable and diverse Board, which always asks the right (and often challenging!) questions, holds myself and senior colleagues to account, and remains deeply committed to our core purpose of supporting and strengthening nursing and midwifery in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the public.

And they demonstrated all of these qualities in abundance at that Awayday! The result was a clear message that in order for the strategy to be relevant, effective and truly meet the needs of a modern nursing and midwifery workforce, it needed to be co-created with our beneficiaries.

And so began a varied and thought-provoking co-creation process that ranged from visits deep in the Welsh Valleys, to virtual meetings with our alumni in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to discussions with midwives, healthcare support workers and students in London! We also asked for feedback via an article in Nursing Standard.

Across much of 2023, we sought input from a wide range of stakeholders from across the UK, in different fields, and in a variety of roles and settings. We wanted to know what was important to them and what they thought the Foundation’s priorities should be.

As a result, much of the focus and content of our new strategy has been directly influenced by the voices, views and hopes of nursing and midwifery staff. In calling the new strategy Ignite, Inspire, Aspire: our vision to transform lives, we have sought to reflect back to the professions our commitment to achieving their ambitions – for themselves, their professions and their patients.

Importantly, I firmly believe that the co-creation process provides a legitimacy to the new strategy which means that we can be confident of the direction we are taking and the impact we aim to make over the next five years. As one nurse told us during our discussions, “your education grants have kept me in a profession I love, so it is vital that you continue to support us in this way.” Many of the specific objectives included in the strategy, such as the need to focus on Quality Improvement projects, and establishing a repository to house the outcomes developed from our education grants, are a direct result of the feedback received during the co-creation process.

In the RCN Foundation’s new strategy, you will see that we have remained true to our charitable purposes, providing support and grants for hardship, education and training, and research and innovation. But I hope that what is also evident is that over the coming period, we are seeking to add value through the support that we provide, and to elevate the impact of our work by setting ourselves some ambitious targets.

Finally, I began with one quotation and I’d like to end with another, one which I believe resonates with our approach during the next five years: “the real power of money is the power to give it away.” By delivering this strategy, the RCN Foundation has the power to enact significant and positive change for current and future generations of nursing and midwifery professionals and through them, on the lives of those under their care.