'In order to make a real difference, managers and staff need to make a personal commitment to their customers. It is worth remembering that we are all customers - we should be prepared to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.'

'What did you do today to make you feel proud?'

So sang.M People in their.inspirational pop ballad. At the height of its popularity in the late 1990s, the song was once used by a care provider I worked for to be their motivational theme tune for the company's annual managers and staff conference.

Every morning, when the delegates arrived for the conference, we were greeted by the song, almost as a rallying call. At the end of the two-day conference, we all knew every single word and I couldn't get the tune out of my head for weeks.

The one thing the repeated playing of the song did was to make me, as a regional manager, stop and think about what practical steps I could take to make a real difference for managers, staff and residents every day.

Fired up

Working for another care provider, I was introduced to walking on hot coals. With over 10,000 people being encouraged to make the fire-walk in quick succession, the event had to be seen to be believed. I crossed the hot coals with no adverse effects.

Motivating your managers and staff can make a real difference to the way they deliver their customer service.

Watching Premiership football managers in action can give a clear insight into the art of inspirational management techniques. When your team is winning, the atmosphere throughout the club is positive and upbeat. Then look at some of the teams struggling to avoid relegation. The players lack confidence and direction, and seem to miss open goals almost every week.

Likewise, some NHS wards, departments and independent care homes suffer from poor leadership and ineffective managers. If poor leadership is allowed to go unchecked, staff can become demoralised and lacking.confidence and direction.

A combination of management issues can quickly result in poor care standards. Sickness and absence levels rise and the turnover of staff and managers follows. Complaints rise and morale plummets.

Primary relations

Cambian Healthcare provides intensive psychiatric rehabilitation. Training hospital managers and staff in customer care is an.integral part of my role as Cambian's recently appointed PCT relationship/communications manager.

To develop our relationships with PCTs, we have introduced bi-monthly reports that are designed to provide an update for patients undertaking the active care programme within a Cambian facility.

Communication about untoward incidents, successes and failures provides PCTs with confidence as they can see that our care and support for their patients is both transparent and cost-effective.

One of the major requirements for PCTs is to receive information on a regular basis that is appropriate, timely and relevant to identify the successes made.

The care programme approach reviews remain the main interface between the.funders and the multidisciplinary team members. We are refining our systems and have gained feedback from the PCT and community care co-ordinators, which.allows us to improve and exceed our customers' expectations.

In order to make a real difference, managers and staff need to make a personal commitment to their customers. It is worth remembering that we are all customers -.we should be prepared to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

Ask yourself at the end of every shift: 'What did I do today to make me feel proud?'

Reflecting on your practice will, I am sure, make a real difference not only to you but also to your patients and colleagues.

Adrian Ashurst is PCT relationships/communications manager for Cambian Healthcare.