A strong advocate for nurse empowerment and actively involved on platforms locally, regionally, and globally, Siân Collier-Jones has proven herself as a transformational healthcare leader. Sitting as the Chief Nursing Officer of Al-Futtaim Health, she is one of the most influential healthcare executives to know.
Al-Futtaim has made its mark as a key player within the healthcare industry. Led by a dynamic team of industry experts, this year saw the managing director, Dr Haidar Al Yousef winning CEO of the year, and Chief Nursing Officer Siân Collier-Jones receiving the outstanding leadership award demonstrating the force behind the name.
After securing the remarkable achievement of being the first primary healthcare chain in the UAE to be awarded international accreditation, Al-Futtaim Health went on to partner with the American Heart Association (AHA) and launch an international training center, dedicated to clinical education & life support training. With a solid foundation in the UAE, Al-Futtaim Health now has a growing number of exciting projects across the GCC region.
In an exclusive interview with Insights Care Let us know more about Siân’s journey in reshaping healthcare.
Kindly tell us your source of inspiration, what led you to the healthcare industry?
At the age of 18 I accepted a healthcare assistant position at a local hospital, this role shaped the entire trajectory of my career. Based on a geriatric rehabilitation unit, my duties were far from glamorous, but it taught me the importance of compassionate care. I felt like I made a difference and quickly realized the endless opportunities within healthcare to contribute to care needs. The drive for empathetic, patient centric care continues to motivate me to this day.
Can you shed some light on your career journey over the years?
Originally from the UK, I trained and worked in the NHS for 15 years before relocating to the Middle East. I have passed through many roles in my career from staff nurse, educator, clinical nurse specialist, senior advisor, and nurse consultant. Each of these roles has positively contributed to where I am today. I was CNO of several facilities and groups in the region before being appointed as Chief Nursing Officer of Al-Futtaim Health, leading the nursing functions across all brands and divisions of Al-Futtaim.
What studies or skill development did it take for you to become a Chief Nursing Officer?
This career has always pushed me to keep learning and I have undertaken a balance of clinical, quality, and leadership development over the years. In addition to nursing I studied public health, clinical education, and healthcare management which enabled me to have a more holistic outlook on healthcare.
Quality is integral to my role so I felt it was important to achieve chartered member status with CQP (UK’s professional body for quality & auditing professionals) and to secure NAHQ’s certified professional in healthcare quality licensure (CPHQ-USA). My nursing administration & leadership skills organically evolved over time and were formally assessed when I was conferred as a certified global nurse consultant (CGNC) by the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
Can you elaborate on the core values and mission of Al-Futtaim Health? How do you align the nursing services to best serve the organization?
Al-Futtaim Health’s values are centered around 5 key pillars: Excellence, Compassion, Innovation, Respect and Ethical practices.
Being responsible for the creation and development of the nursing structure, excellence was fundamental. I believe excellence starts with a strong team culture, so nurturing & developing the right culture within the nursing department was critical to me. I ensured sustainable quality governance structures were embedded within the department, through dedicated roles, support & education.
Compassion is massively associated with nursing and is at the heart of what we do, I’m incredibly grateful to have introduced the international DAISY awards to the organization. DAISY is a patient nominated award to recognize extraordinary nursing care and compassion. This year we were honored to welcome the DAISY foundation Co-founders, CEO and VP from the USA, to attend one of our nursing award ceremonies.
Innovation is the value that also relates to our mission, which is ‘to redefine the healthcare experience by delivering high quality, smart and integrated care’. This is one area where Al-Futtaim health have been a pioneer in the region by creating end-to-end digital solutions, and nurses have been a key player in the care delivery of these solutions.
Nurses’ roles are ever evolving, and the use of technology, telemetry and assisted devises are now part of modern-day nursing care. For example, we recently launched our SmartDoc project, this technology uses a remote device deployed & operated by specialist nurses. This project was a huge success for the organization and was even awarded platinum status at the 2022 Patient Safety Awards.
In what areas, in your opinion, does the regional health system struggle when it comes to treating patients?
In any private healthcare system, fragmented care is a real issue. It’s essential to have a well-balanced healthcare ecosystem that works seamlessly for continuous health management. We live in ever-changing times, and the UAE has demonstrated its enormous strength and forward-thinking in this area. The pandemic saw instant responses and initiatives from the entire healthcare spectrum, both public and private. Al-Futtaim Health was one of the first private providers to partner with the DHA on pandemic response initiatives, working together for population safety in real-time. We rapidly established a large COVID-19 field hospital and launched multiple response projects across Dubai.
Considering that you are an enthusiast in the field of nursing, what nursing initiatives are you actively involved in?
I am a huge advocate of nurse empowerment and I believe it’s important to constantly learn, share, and contribute to developing the nursing profession.
I have a passion for mentoring as it offers bidirectional learning and development as well as a connection to the next generation of nurse leaders. I am on several remote mentorship platforms, most notably the global “Nursing Now Challenge.” I joined this movement after the successful launch of the Nightingale Challenge, which I had the pleasure of being a very small part of. I also sit as an editorial board member of a healthcare journal, which provides me the opportunity to keep up with the latest research and practices. As a fellow of a government-selected nurse leader task force and roundtable expert panel. I can contribute to think tank policy development and promote strategic initiatives within healthcare. I was extremely humbled to have received an award earlier this year for my contribution to healthcare.
Share with us some nursing insights or tips that you would like nurses to know.
Never stop learning or growing. Nursing is such a versatile career with many opportunities. Every role in healthcare is important. Having worked across a spectrum of designations from HCA to CNO, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a systems mindset. Each role adds a unique value, and we all need to work together for care to be effective. Listening is how I learn so much from my team; it’s also part of our motto, “We Hear You.” It is important that you stay connected, as you move from the bedside to the boardroom, it is easy to get consumed by administration and lose connection with the wider workforce. Maintaining communication and ensuring psychological safety within your team is vital. In addition to structured feedback, leadership rounds, nursing committees and initiatives, I hold agenda free drop-in sessions monthly, which helps keep dialogue open.
What are some of the challenges you face when conducting nursing operations, and how do you turn them into opportunities for growth?
I think the biggest challenge faced by any CNO is staff retention or staffing numbers in general, as this impacts skill mix planning and general operations. This is a global issue everywhere and was recently intensified due to the pandemic. The surge in operational demands made everyone re-evaluate capacity planning. One thing that nurses are renowned for is their ingenuity and flexibility, so of course this has been turned into an opportunity for growth!
We learned fast that with the right support, training, and framework in place, it was possible to create a more agile, cross-functional workforce. Roles and responsibilities were re-evaluated, and we introduced modified processes, designations, or smart technology for greater utilization and skill optimization. This in turn created new roles and expanded opportunities for our nurses, with career and skill progression that ultimately resulted in staff satisfaction.
In an ever-competitive global market, staff satisfaction and self-development are vital components of growing any workforce.