Reduce stress, increase teamwork and deliver Outstanding care through play (no this isn’t an April fool)

All of us know how to play, and we’ve know it all our lives, not just on April fools day, in fact all of us are experts by experience, though it may seem that many of us have forgotten as we have aged, often in direct proportion to how often we need to wear a suit.

Re-accessing our hardwired ability to play everyday could be the secret ingredient to great care.

WCS Care who operate five homes recognised as Outstanding by the CQC have play as one of their four core values that they support their staff to bring to life every day.

Play has been shown to reduce stress, increase teamwork, and increase creativity, so why don’t we do it more often? Is it not fun? Yes, but only in a relaxed environment, right? With people we trust, where we feel safe to be frivolous.

And here’s the rub, the higher up organisations we go the more serious we are often expected to be. The consequence of this can be less trust, worse relationships, less fun and less creativity and innovation in our organisations. And all of that adds up to worse outcomes for the people we support, and poorer business performance.

Playfulness and humour have been shown across time and sectors to be a key dimension of the conditions that support organisations to be more creative and deliver innovation. This is why we make creating a playful culture on of the key area of support we provide to members of the Centre for Creativity and Innovation in Care.

So what can care leaders do?

-     number one - join in, culture is essentially a collection of our behaviour, if you are seen to be playful it gives a clear message (so does it if you stand at the edges and cross your arms)

-     talk about it with colleagues, take it seriously

-     tell stories about fun things that happened

-     use games tactically in meetings, particularly to reduce stress and build creativity

-     brainstorm ways to build more playfulness into your organisation

We'd love to hear any success stories around play, and any challenges you have in your organisation below.

So there you go, a serious post about play on April fools day.