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Breathing new life into change at Anthony Nolan

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Breathing new life into change at Anthony Nolan

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Anthony Nolan is a charity set up to assist with the matching of stem cells with transplant recipients.  As part of its work, Anthony Nolan collects, analyses (types), stores and ‘matches’ potential donors to needy recipients.  Over the last few years, the laboratories have been taking part in a major programme to introduce new tissue typing technology and thereby, enable more accurate matching of donors to recipients.  This programme required a major change in all the lab processes while, at the same time, carrying on with all the day to day laboratory testing.  Th ] situation was high pressure and stressful and, after two years, the participants were flagging and showing signs of mental exhaustion.

Vari McLuskie, the programme director from Verve Consulting, noted the ‘project fatigue’ and suggested a solution.  Vari had been a practitioner of Mindfulness and Meditative practices for more than 25 years and felt certain the some of these techniques could help.  Therefore, she suggested to the laboratory director, Katy Latham, that she carry out a 10 week programme which focused on Mindfulness, integrated with some time management skills.  Her suggestion was accepted and then, every Tuesday lunchtime, a group of key, senior lab managers, joined Vari who carried out the Mindfulness training.

“Up until that point,” explained Katy Latham, “Everyone was slowing down. They were fatigued and the whole programme felt like it was losing momentum.  Everybody was stressed, so Vari suggested a ‘Learning and Development opportunity.” Katy admitted that, while everyone had heard of Mindfulness, doing it in a work situation felt strange. Katy then elaborated,  “Many people were sceptical too – we made certain that the window on the door was covered so that no one could see what we were doing.”   Vari quickly covered the fundamentals of mindfulness, integrating the explanation with practical, group activities and time management techniques.

“I found it very enjoyable.  Everyone went into the sessions very stressed and came out far more relaxed, focused and effective.  It seemed to help us breathe new life into our project at a very difficult time. I don’t have exact numbers, but around 50% of those who attended have carried on with the practice and it has certainly helped the team bond and work together more effectively’.