Research Café IV: British Imperialism, Zero carbon building and quality and safety in healthcare

These were all topics at our 4th Research Café held on Wednesday 22nd January 2014. The Research Café was well attended and held out at our I M Marsh campus. As usual we had a mix of interesting topics.

Research Cafe presenters

Left to Right: Simon, Stephen and Peter

Simon Hill (School of Humanities and Social Science) “British Imperialism: Liverpool and the American Revolution, 1763-1783”

 In 1763 Britain was victorious, after consolidating her hold over North America, following the seven year war, but war is an expensive business and the Exchequer was in debt looking to raise revenue from the American Colonies.  Much has been written about Liverpool in the  18th Century, Britain’s second port during this time, the starting point for variety of destinations and synonymous with the Slave Trade. Very little has been written about Liverpool and the American Revolution. So, just where did Liverpool fit in? Who made policy? What was the economic and impact on Liverpool?

Using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative materials from the Liverpool Archives  such as Merchant ledgers, family papers of key names of the time such as the Davenports, Customs records and the Treasury it was evident that there was interaction between private business and politicians using their influence in London.  There is some evidence of  economic impact which can be seen in the shipping figures from the time: a drop in the number of ships registered in Liverpool, reduction in tonnage and increase in unemployment – men laid off due to the dip in overseas trade resulting in the 1775 Sailor’s Riot. The social impact saw the increase in Refugees and Prisoners of War, more expenditure on ship building and the Royal Navy guarding the mouth of the Mersey resulting in press gangs and  violence. It is harder to determine how the war impacted upon living standards as there is little evidence apart from the increase in the cost of newspapers and coaches.

Overall, Simon concluded there is a lot of anecdotal evidence but is difficult to establish some facts as there is very little information available from the period.

Stephen Finnegan (School of Built Environment)  “Zero Carbon Building: Fact or Fiction?”

In 2016 every new residential property must be zero carbon and by 2019 all new commercial builds. Stephen posed the question what is zero carbon? The answer: think Igloo! A building which has no impact on the environment. How do we get to this? Stephen introduced the “ life cycle of building products” known by two stage:  the Embodied Stage consisting of the extraction of materials; manufacture of building materials; on-site construction; demolition; recycling or landfill and the Operational Stage: the maintenance of the building over 60/70 years.

Conventional buildings are currently 20% Embodied and 80% Operational, a zero carbon building would be 100% Embodied. Design is the key: tall buildings verses low building; positioning;  use of solar panels; insulation against heat loss; energy supply: solar? Wind? Currently a three bedroom house cost around £60,000 to build, zero carbon could double the cost. Who is going to pay and what about affordable housing?

The current Government focuses on the Operational stage “zero carbon for all energy used in the home” and this is a problem, we need to look at the whole cycle. Politicians continue to debate the life cycle impact for new buildings but what about the existing buildings? The next question is: how do we maintain zero carbon?

Peter Bohan (Centre for Public Health) “Does Leadership behaviour affect Quality and Safety in Healthcare?”

The short answer is YES! Using semi structured interviews with 9 NHS Acute Trust executive and NVIVO9, results revealed that executive leadership behaviour, beliefs and how they engage with staff impact on quality and safety in the NHS. Results also showed that executives understood the need for the appropriate type of leadership style but that style wasn’t  always aligned with the strategic vision of the NHS. However, results also indicated that while there was need for transformational and adaptable leadership styles to meet the needs of the organisation,  at times it was transformational and autocratic leadership which was needed to achieve targets.

Quality and safety was the single issue that should be focused on and had an impact on the patient experience but quality and safety have different meanings depending on who was asked:, for example the public expect 5 star treatment and private rooms, this means more nurses to monitor them resulting in a rise in cost.  Executives are brought in to change the culture of the organisation and meeting targets are important,  with success being achieved at the cost of leadership styles and thus a drop in culture –  a prime cause in poor care. Quality and safety can be easily eroded by the behaviour of leaders and engagement with staff is key to a person’s performance, wellbeing and willingness to go the extra mile. The Francis Report 2013 described the Department of Health being “ led by bullying”, it made 220 recommendations which are now being implemented in all hospitals.

It was acknowledged that it is very difficult to change leadership style, there is a need to develop the behaviours that are appropriate and highlight both the negative and positive behaviours. There are still many questions to be answered and the next step is an open forum with 24 executives.

If this has whetted your appetite for more information about the research being undertaken at LJMU why not join us at the next Research Café on Wednesday 19th Feb – more information coming soon….

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