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There is hope in the humanness of our health and care system.

Our report sets out the journey of Project Lift over the past year, celebrating the successes, reflecting on what we have learnt and achieved and setting out our commitments for the coming year.  If  2018/19 was about putting people at the heart of leadership in health and social care then 2019/20 has been about the hope that we can hold on to when we recognise that we are all human and pay attention to all that this means.



We published our first Progress Report in June 2019. This year we are writing this report in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, COVID-19. While we could not have predicted this scenario, we find ourselves facing a reality in line with, and a continuation of,  the Case for Change published in last year’s report. A reality that will have a lasting impact much wider than our Health and Social Care system.

Over the past year we have continually returned to our ambition, our reason for being. As the reach of Project Lift has increased further across Health and Social Care, we have been asked the question ‘What is Project Lift really about?

Using the National Performance Framework as our ‘North Star’, we hold true to our ambition of trying to engineer whole system culture change. What we focus on is enabling everybody who works in health and social care to have the best experience at work. In the film above, Dave Caesar expands on this, and how there are some formal aspects to what we enable such as how we recruit, how we develop people in leadership terms, how we enable talent management to undertake these things in a way that is compassionate and collaborative. In essence ‘to really try and enable folk to be at their best when caring for others. That’s what it’s all about.’

In our June 2019 Progress Report we highlighted the following:

Case for change

Stated the case for change and the need for an initiative such as Project Lift

Shared our vision

Shared our ethos,  the evidence base behind it and offered the background, the journey and the intentions

Explained the plan

Explained our what, why and how – and also the evaluation and impact of our work

Bold commitments

Made bold commitments for the coming year around our 5 elements: Engagement, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Values Based Recruitment, Performance Appraisal

Making Project Lift more accessible, understandable and easy to engage with.

What is Project Lift all about?

We have focused on expanding our reach and making Project Lift as accessible as possible. As part of this we have answered our most frequently asked question:

'What is Project Lift?'

In 2019 we worked with our Communication and Engagement Partners, Daysix, to create an animation that could share the complexity of Project Lift in a simple and accessible way.

Here is our welcome animation.
We hope you like it.

Watch in new tab

Our plan for the past year

In our 2019 progress report, we committed to taking a robust and meaningful approach to evaluating the impact that Project Lift and our related activities bring and to continue to build on our experience and learning to date across all five elements of Project Lift. We committed to growing the collaboration – of Scottish Government, NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council – to work more closely with a network of collaborators from across public services, the third and independent sectors, with a clear focus on supporting the progress of Integration, exploring and experimenting with ways of achieving Sustainable Performance and Reform, and in achieving the outcomes of the National Performance Framework. The detail of our specific next steps in each of the five elements of Project Lift is outlined in the final section of the report however in outline, the next steps were: 

  • ENGAGEMENT Continue to build connections across the Health and Care and the wider Public Sector and enable people across our communities to connect with each other through Project Lift 
  • TALENT MANAGEMENT Continue to facilitate and broaden access to Talent Management and make the connections to broader leadership development opportunities. 
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Broaden the scope of leadership development and continue to make the connections across the system so that individuals and teams are enabled to access a range of development opportunities. 
  • VALUES BASED RECRUITMENT Improve and spread the application of Values Based Recruitment across Health and Care. 
  • PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL Continue to support the improvement and increasing relevance of the Performance Appraisal approach, ensuring that connections are made to Talent Management and Leadership Development.

What have we achieved - the 2020 reality.

  • ENGAGEMENT we invested time and resources as we continued to build connections, listening and creating dialogue which resulted in increased engagement across the website, app and events, and we saw people from a wider range of backgrounds connecting with us and with each other.
  • TALENT MANAGEMENT we have facilitated access to Talent Management for a wider and more diverse range of individuals, increasing engagement and making connections to broader leadership development opportunities.
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT we have developed current offers and broadened the scope of new leadership offers, extending these out across the wider system reaching leaders at all levels from a more professionally, geographically and organisationally diverse population.
  • VALUES BASED RECRUITMENT we have continued to support the improvement and application of Values Based Recruitment across Health and Care.
  • PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL  We have continued to support the improvement and increasing relevance of the Performance Appraisal approach, ensuring that connections are made to Talent Management and Leadership Development.

What have we found difficult this year and how might we do things differently?


  • We received the feedback that our website and communications were often very NHS orientated and we have worked hard with contacts within social care to adapt our language, voice and messaging to be more inclusive. This has included working more closely with SSSC, bringing in community partners with direct links and roles in the 3rd sector, social care and education for health and care services. We have also listened through community engagement, making it safe to be honest and disagree with us and through blind feedback and wider review with our communication partners, Daysix, in our website redesign.
  • We have learned that sometimes the best thing we can do is get out of the way.  When the pandemic hit, we spent the first few weeks creating space for those engaged with us, holding back our regular activities and listening to what different groups where saying.  This was received well and has strengthened our resolve to be always listening.
  • COVID-19 stopped us in our plans half way through what we were doing to support our community members to connect, exchange, learn and come together.  We have since turned around a refocused and energised plan for moving forward for the next year, based on topics and conversations, hosted digitally for the foreseeable future.
  • You can read more about these points in our engagement section

Talent Management

  • It has been a busy time in developing the wider range of processes and tools and remaining sensitive to the needs of local systems and their operational pressures has been important. We are working hard with HR related teams to understand how we can support them in the area of talent management.
  • Engaging colleagues in Health and Social Care Partnerships, care providers, and the 3rd /voluntary sector is still challenging and we are working hard to identify how to connect more effectively with more of the varied, diverse range of organisations.

Leadership Development

  • The postponement of formal learning events for leadership cubed cohorts and national programmes was one of the most significant changes and required us to role model the ethos in our relationships to balance the variety needs across cohorts, collaborators and stakeholders.
  • We continue to face the challenge of raising awareness and attracting more participants from Social Care and other partners to our Project Lift Community and development programmes.
  • The challenges of the last year have accelerated the team’s appetite and capability to work virtually and reshape our development offerings for the online environment. This has served to enhance our collective skills and aptitude for working virtually going forward which will enable us to extend our reach

Values Based Recruitment

  • Our exploratory work has reinforced the ongoing tension between a desire for national consistency and the importance of local autonomy and has also emphasised that the experience of those involved in such processes should always be a central consideration. We have been listening to understand through work across HR Directors, recruitment leads and conversation between Scottish Government, Boards and organisations.
  • Progress has been slower than hoped due to the refocusing of resources on our response to COVID-19

Performance Appraisal

  • We have contributed to evolving and improving the experience and impact of Performance Appraisal in supporting our senior leaders in embodying the attitudes and behaviours of the Project Lift ethos.
  • We have worked to progress our understanding of what the holistic process could look like in the next phase of activity by listening to others across the system which has shown a range of activity depending on a range of factors within Boards and organisations.

2020 and beyond.

We know that there will be challenges ahead that we cannot yet see.  We wait as a global community to see the ongoing impact of COVID and how that manifests itself on our Nation, our health and care system, those that access it and those that work within it.

We are encouraged by the humanness we have seen in the responses in the past 6 months and how we, as part of the wider system, have adapted to support our communities, networks and organisations.  If ever there was a time for the Project Lift ethos to be shown as the approach to enable transformational change, it is now.

  • Engagement – we will continue to further reach across the Health and Social Care system to enable people across our communities to connect, inspire and learn together through Project Lift.
  • Talent Management – we will continue to develop the Talent Management suite while extending access to both the platform and collaborative opportunities across health and social care and the wider public sector. We will also strengthen a national approach to succession planning and continue to broker connections between those identified as having potential and emerging leadership challenges.
  • Leadership Development – we will continue rescheduling and recovery of development activities configuring these in a way that supports what’s needed in the system and draws upon whole system learning. We will continue to expand our range of offers, providing offers open to all and more tailored offers to specific target populations and groups identified through the Project Lift Talent Management process.
  • Values Based Recruitment – we will continue to engage with those engaged in values based recruitment at a local level to learn from their experience and inform good practice and will support it’s extended, proportionate and effective use across health and social care and supporting the development and growth of individuals, whether they are successful or not.
  • Performance Appraisal: we will continue to revisit how we can support the evolution and improvement of the experience and impact of Performance Appraisal with those across the Health and Care system who are using this while continuing to hold the central responsibility for ensuring it is part of the holistic approach to the career journey from recruitment to development.
Extending the invitation, extending reach, embracing difference.

Across our career conversations, individual, team and community engagements, leadership offers and our collaboration we continue to reach out and build upon conversations across health, social care, the third and voluntary sectors and wider public service.

In 2019 we shared our ambition to extend our reach further into Health and Social Care both in community engagement and in talent management.
We have built good, collaborative relationships in Social Care and have made connections to enable us to include leaders from Social Care and the voluntary and third sectors into our events and our conversations. There is still much to be done and we are energised and encouraged in working across the wider system and our thinking, offers and community conversations are all enriched by this.

Social Media soundbites

I have just downloaded it (SAQ report)! This is so great. It’s like Myers Briggs but specifically to your management capabilities. This is so useful and really helpful to see what I need to work on but to also see what I am inherently good at and why I make a good leader/manager.
Thanks so much! We should do this first, second, third year and compare our growth with our NES mentors!

Eli BeggAssistant Service Manager, NHS Lothian

Enjoyed finally doing my @ProjectLiftScot self assessment questionnaire today. Quite stretching as a reflective exercise. Also very relevant and useful. Highly recommended for all @NHSGrampian colleagues with an interest in developing their leadership potential.

Tom Power @tomrpowerDirector of People and Culture, NHS Grampian.

I sent 2 of these today to say thank you - @projectliftscot "We’ve had requests for packs of ‘You’re Awesome’ postcards for events and teams. The free packs have all gone but you can fund and order them directly from our partners ⁦
@wearedaysix ⁩ See details! NB - the digital cards are avail 24/7 and free!"

Justine Greaves @Jusgreaves28Senior Improvement lead for Older people NHS GGC.

"Connecting the system to more of itself. Discussing leadership ethos, challenges and opportunities" @ProjectLiftScot @SCLF_ Day 1 @brigidrussell51 @GPax1

Jenny McCusker @jennymccusker1SCLF Facilitator and ODL&L Specialist Lead, NES

Replying to @ProjectLiftScot "Leadership exchange is a marvellous program that builds understanding, knowledge sharing and relationships. I got so much from my exchange with @JanetWhitley10 thanks to @ACOSVO"

Meg Wright @MegWright10Community Partner and Interim Manager Forth Valley Rape Crisis

"Looking forward to this session today from @ProjectLiftScot and @kscopehealth on leading change through COVID. They are having more events soon details in the photos."

@GlasgowOralSurgEducation & news from oral surgeons at Glasgow Dental Hospital

One of my fave comments from the @ProjectLiftScot @kscopehealth event today on Leading Change:
"I've thoroughly enjoyed this event, hearing others' stories, the speakers, reading the comments. Thank you all, feeling re-energised and inspired again"

Heather Shearer @hlshearerCommunity Partner

Leadership in Covid-19: can we affect radical change by thinking differently about power?
Great blog for @ProjectLiftScot from @Glennetal and @janAHPO

Kaleidoscope H&C @kscopehealthOur community partners and social enterprise leaders
The data

3,212 SAQ completions

138 Career Conversations booked

5,799 Users accessed the Project Lift app

Powerful data to review and improve the work of project lift runs throughout the year.