Joanne Newton NHPRC2013


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Can a university be a ‘healthy university?’

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  • My question is Can a Uni be a HU? My interest in healthy settings: Particularly the move away from individual behaviour & risk to the idea of positive health & resources for health - a Humanistic approach - the human being and human rights are a key focus. Objective is to create pre-requisites for a good life. “What is it that creates health?”
  • Unis are important settings Universities and settings share similar aims and valuesUniversities help to build stronger more tolerant society, they help with social mobility, engender greater political interest, higher trust, community outreach (Shaheen 2011) And also……
  • Lots of them. 169 universities in the UKThey are large workplaces - Employ 370,000 peopleOver 2.5 million students - Students are at a key transition point, opportunity for new experiences, develop life skills, clarify values. Many unis see the whole student experience as the heart of what they do. So therefore their role is more than just teaching and learningHave local, regional and national impact . Seems like would be ideal healthy settings
  • Are universities different to other settings?Healthy cities arose out of values of health promotion, leadership from WHOHealthy cities was seen as a political programme concerned with changes in power relations with respect to health. Schools WHO and national commitment
  • Universities are not same as either schools or cities. They are primarily competitive businessesCould changes of power relations leading to a notion of empowerment be possible within the hierarchy of auni?Is new managerialism at odds with a values based healthy setting approach?
  • In addition to unis being competitive businesses , there is also a lack of evidence of effectiveness of HU. Lack of distinctiveness from similar initiatives – From an organisational perspective Newell 1995 describes the healthy organisation as one where values and principles are embedded in the organisation and where the organisation has a sense of social and moral responsibility, is concerned with the employees quality of life and provides a healthy working environment – how different is that from a HU?HU still conceptualised in various ways from indiv HP projects to a whole uni approachAlso, lack of an overall theory of explanation
  • So the aim my study was to further investigate this concept of a HUI used 2 instrumental Case studies. Purposive samplingCase study one – exemplar case (ie explicit commitment to H&WB and HU)Case study two – contrary case (ie no explicit commitment to H&WB and HU)Total 25 qualitative interviews with senior managers, staff and students in each university. documentary analysis, and observation
  • Findings from both unis: feelings and an ethos were important – feeling healthy/happy/satisfiedVery little on physical health. Little on prevention of illness. Students did talk about healthy behaviour - no smoking, healthy eating. But often the provision of healthy food was talked about in terms of demonstrating a way of caring for/nurturing people.
  • “Having good managers is really, important to make people feel valued, to make them feel they are contributing to the whole. If you don’t have good managers that can make life really miserable” (GB Staff Q)
  • Effective two way communication was important
  • Further enhancers of H&WB were the environment, and particularly social relationships“We are social beings; “Social support is the missing link for staff. Often we don’t talk, or only briefly. Conversations are formal” Inhibitors of H&WB were seen to be the reverse of theseNegative, autocratic management style, poor communication, feeling of not being listened to or valued, lack of social interaction.
  • Challenges: H&WB cannot be main focus for uni. Financial and political pressures, competing priorities dominatedFinancial survival is key. To enable financial survival there was constant change - Re-organisations and redundancies - Fewer resources, fewer staff, increased workloads, uncertainty, dissatisfaction, stress (and sometimes unemployment)
  • Whole system approach – difficult. Separation, disconnection & fragmentationCulture – complex, not homogenous, “them and us”, “tribes” , “Faculties and buildings keep us separate” “Physical barriers - size, disparate nature. It’s a big organisation, it’s hard to interact” Community – detached, separate, divisions, silos (especially for academic staff)Variation of management styles across uniContingent on the leader and his/her understanding of H&WB and whether or not this is central to human development
  • Although there was uncertainty about the concept, the leadership team in the exemplar uni did have a vision of a HU and were concerned to treat people well, with respect and did see H&WB as central to human development. For others in both universities there was no common understanding
  • In the exemplar case the management team had a “vision” of a HU informed by values & concern for people. They were concerned to do “The right thing to do”. This involved investing in staff and studentsThere was an aspiration to become healthy in all respects. This reflected the knowledge, experience and background of the senior team. It reflected in the culture of the organisation and in itself seemed to be health promotingmany people across the university reported feeling valued, satisfied, contented and happy. Although there was variation
  • And this did contrast with the contrary case where there was no such as aspiration. There was concern about how much it would cost, and proof of its economic value. The analogy of a machine was frequently used with people seen as mechanical parts.This reflected the views of the senior team where H&WB had not been considered, and few had a background in H&WBWould require a transformation in perspectives and values – maybe this could be brought about if there was more evidence of effectiveness
  • Culture? due to individual leadership(leader at exemplary case had clear understanding about H&WB, HP and HU)? due to ethical management practice (where individuals are valued, supported and treated well)? OR due to the Healthy University concept alone
  • Joanne Newton NHPRC2013

    1. 1. Can a university be a ‘healthy university?’ Jo Newton 3rd Year PhD Student LSBU Supervisors: Professor Jane Wills LSBU Professor Nicola Crichton LSBU Professor Mark Dooris UCLAN June 2013
    2. 2. The university as a setting • Traditionally share similar aims and values • Values include engagement, diversity, participation, collab oration • Aim is continuous improvement • Natural community to strive to create & improve H&WB
    3. 3. The university as a setting • 169 universities in the UK • Employ 370,000 people • Over 2.5 million students (Universities UK 2012) • Student experience is key • Positive H&WB understood to underpin success
    4. 4. But are universities different? Healthy cities • Arose out of values of health promotion • Implement Ottawa Charter (WHO 1986) • Put health high on social and political agendas Healthy schools • Achieve education goals through addressing health issues • Reflect core business of school, share values
    5. 5. Universities (in England) • Large, complex organisations • Competitive businesses • Financial constraints, competing priorities • New managerialism: emphasis on market forces, income generation, increased accountability, performance management, indicators, targets (Deem 2004) ? values base at odds with settings
    6. 6. Healthy Universities • Lack of evidence of effectiveness (Dooris 2007) • Lack of leadership and national legitimisation/infrastructure • Lack of distinctiveness • Various interpretations/conceptualisations: HP projects within the university Whole university approach to H&WB
    7. 7. Can a university be a „healthy university‟? Two qualitative case studies to investigate: 1. How is H&WB perceived and understood by the people within the university setting? 2. How is the concept manifested and operationalised in a university? 3. How does a university produce or inhibit H&WB?
    8. 8. Findings: H&WB as an ethos • Extensive concept, more of an ethos than physical health, happiness was a significant component: • “It’s wide, It’s about happiness, quality of life, lifestyle, having a good social network, having control, being fulfilled” (GB staff R)
    9. 9. Enhancers of H&WB Organisational culture of caring & valuing, demonstrated by: • Positive management style, cascaded by the leader, throughout the organisation and enacted by line managers People felt supported, encouraged, valued Recurring theme: H&WB can be produced or inhibited by line managers
    10. 10. Enhancers of H&WB Organisational culture of caring & valuing, demonstrated by: • Effective two way communication People felt heard, listened to, voice counted, involved. “It feels like they listen. I feel very positive” (GB Staff R) “It feels like the university values people’s opinions” (GB Staff N)
    11. 11. Enhancers of H&WB Organisational culture of caring & valuing, demonstrated by: • Provision of clean, safe, pleasant working, studying and living and environments • Opportunities for social interaction and positive social relationships • Ability to network and support each other
    12. 12. Challenges to operationalising HU H&WB cannot be the main focus or a top priority for the university Financial and political pressures, competing priorities dominated Constant change - re-organisations and redundancies Uncertainty, dissatisfaction, stress
    13. 13. Challenges to operationalising HU Difficult to adopt a whole system approach to H&WB • Fragmented & disconnected nature of universities (due to size, physical barriers, not a homogenous community) • Variation of management style • Dependent on leadership of VC
    14. 14. Uncertainty about the concept “What does it mean?” “How would we know?” “What would it look like?” “What would the outcomes be?” “It‟s a big concept”
    15. 15. However……. • Exemplar case showed concern for people • Investment in staff & students seen as “the right thing to do” • Aspiration and endeavour to become a HU Many people reported feeling valued, satisfied, contented and happy
    16. 16. Contrary case This contrasted with the contrary case • Machine analogy used • People as mechanical parts “How much would it cost?” “Can you prove its economic value?” Would require a transformation in perspectives and values
    17. 17. What this study adds…. • Gives clarification about what a HU is and what a HU means to the people within the university community • Shows how they perceive the university inhibits or promotes their health • Shows the importance of values and human feelings (caring, supportive, happy, vibrant, social interaction, positive energy) • And how these can be enhanced by the culture of the organisation
    18. 18. References: • Deem, R. (2004). The knowledge worker, the manager-academic and the contemporary UK university: new and old forms of public management? Financial Accountability & Management, 20(2), 107 - 128. • Dooris, M. (2007). Healthy settings: past, present and future Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. • Newell, S. (1995). The healthy organisation: fairness, ethics and effective management. London: Routledge. • Shaheen, F. (2011). Degrees of value: how universities benefit society: new economics foundation, Universities UK, University Partnership Programme. • Universities UK: Trends in higher education. (2012). Retrieved 9.5.13, from 2011.aspx
    19. 19. Any questions? Thank you (