An introduction to melting pot lunches, from Dr Catherine Labinjoh, NHS Forth Valley

In Forth Valley, we are always looking for new and interesting ways to share Realistic Medicine and build our Realistic Medicine network. Just like everyone else, we have had to think differently about how we do this in the post-pandemic era. Inspired by Kaleidoscope, a health and care consultancy , we embarked on a series of get-togethers called Melting Pot Lunches.

I attended one of Kaleidoscope’s lunches in 2020.  Why? Well, predominantly London-based, the lunches were now going online so it made it easier for me to attend and the topic was interesting to me – leadership and managing complexity. Also, I knew the audience would be varied and after months of lockdown I was really keen to connect more widely, and not just about the pandemic. Participants are reminded that if they are looking to spend time with like-minded folk they might need to look elsewhere; Melting Pot Lunches are very much about connecting people from different backgrounds and professions; sharing stories, gaining insights and generating new ideas, and all whilst having a bite to eat.  Previously cautious about signing up, I now felt more brave. For all its downsides, Covid has required us to think and act differently and encouraged us to be a little more bold. So I signed up for lunch with some strangers and enjoyed a thought-provoking and inspiring session.

Example flier
Event flyer example from NHS Forth Valley

The “recipe” includes a brief presentation (10 to 15 minutes) and then discussion, firstly one on one, then in a larger group (12 to 14 participants).  The format is quite rigid and the rules of participation made clear (including confidentiality) but I was impressed by the degree of intimacy fostered and the candour of the group. One participant reflected on the language barrier created by another’s jargon – the comment was well intentioned and well-received. I wanted to develop listening and learning spaces like that in Forth Valley and I think we have succeeded in doing so.

Who have we connected?  Our attendee list has included a medical student, senior nurse leader, health and social care practitioner, IT worker, finance director, Realistic Medicine champion, Realistic Medicine sceptic (who knew?!) and many more.  What have we learned? Firstly, people are still curious. Phew. Also, in the right space and with the right time, they ask great questions. And, there’s lots to learn from each other, much which is directly relevant to Realistic Medicine.  We have greatly diversified our network through Melting Pot lunches and used what we’ve learned to inform our Realistic Medicine strategy and direct our activities. Finally, there’s something about having lunch which helps us listen and learn a little better – even online.

Thanks to kaleidoscope https://www.kscopehealth.org.uk/

Catherine Labinjoh, NHS Forth Valley Realistic Medicine Lead