Dragons’ Den annual staff innovation competition

Our annual Dragons' Den innovation competition is similar to the hit BBC television programme, though our ‘dragons’ are not as mean. It is the opportunity for staff to put forward a great idea and – if shortlisted – pitch for project funding and management support to make their proposal a reality.

A record 3,100 staff and members of the public voted for their favourite proposals in 2023. The Stammering Support Initiative was chosen as the overall winner, but nine other projects were also awarded cash support – bringing the overall total to more than £15,100 to help improve patient care.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition, and also to everyone who voted. You can watch the 2023 Dragons’ Den final, and read more about all ten projects which will receive funding, below.


Sensory Toolkit Library

£1,500 

This lovely project will create a sensory toolkit library for the Perinatal Mental Health Service. Sensory strategies can help women self-regulate. Learning about sensory preferences and what calms/ or stimulates neurodiverse women can be helpful in managing feelings such as anxiety. Being able to borrow aids such as weighted blankets or noise-cancelling headphones would mean women could try items before committing to buying them.

Pressed into Action - Art at Home

£1,234 

Pressed into Action – Art at Home would see the ICSD (Intensive Community Support for Dementia) team introduce art activities to patients living in their own homes. Matching activities would also be made available in the Haymoor Day Hospital. Patients in the community would initially be given a flower press and/or a small set of watercolour paints. They would then be able to use these at home to create artwork that, in turn, will be sold to create a self-funding project. This project would help individuals engage in meaningful activities, which subsequently will help maintain cognitive and emotional health.

Living Well, After Care for Healthy Legs!

£622 

This great educational project is bidding for support to produce an after-care leaflet/brochure for patients with leg ulcers under district nursing care, plus their carers and family members. The aim is to reduce the incidences of leg ulcers recurrence in our community and  lessen pressures on District Nursing caseloads and teams’ workload.

Emergency Care Physiotherapy Works

£3,231 

This innovative six-month pilot project to improve outcomes for patients and staff will see an Emergency Physiotherapy Practitioner (EPP) work in the Weymouth Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) alongside the multidisciplinary team (MDT). EPPs have been shown to reduce the number of adverse events within an emergency department, decrease referrals for radiographic imaging, prevent unnecessary admissions, and enable timely discharge of patients. If the pilot goes well, the aspiration will be to develop a business case to roll the service out across all our UTCs and MIUs to ensure patients right across Dorset have fair and easy access to emergency MSK assessment services.

Compassionate Events supporting colleagues who are disabled, and working carers

£2,250 

The aim is to bring together the networks for staff who have a disability and working carers for three compassionate events. These colleagues face similar challenges balancing work and home life responsibilities caring for themselves and others. These staff are essential to a compassionate organisation bringing their skills (empathy, resilience, understanding) and lived experience, and having an insight into many obstacles our patients and carers face. This project will bring both networks together to mutually support each other, supporting staff to stay in work, look after themselves, progress in their career, improving disability access by staff to our facilities, and ultimately bring new perspectives to workforce planning, recruitment and retention strategies.

Stammering Support Initiative

£2,592 

This amazing project will offer children who stammer and their families a community social group run by a Speech and Language Therapists. Together, they will focus on building confidence and resilience, reducing anxiety, making lasting social connections and supporting parents/carers. It will empower children who stammer and their families to live more fulfilling, happy lives.

Emotional Wellbeing Toolkits

£750 

This educational idea for parents/carers, schools, children and young people is to develop starter Emotional Wellbeing Toolkits to help children and young people develop a range of tools and strategies to manage their emotions and feelings in a safe and effective way. The Toolkit will support emotional wellbeing during times of anxiety, stress, worry and low mood and can be made by the child/young person themselves or with help and support from a parent/carer or trusted adult.

The Yoga Clinic

£800 

Yoga benefits physical and mental health in many ways and also brings its practitioners together, creating a sense of community. The Yoga Clinic will be led and delivered by an experienced children’s mental health nurse and yoga teacher. Classes will be available to staff, the young people we work with and their family members. Funding will be for equipment, instructor time will be given for free to specific groups.

SIBS Reunited

£1,576

SIBS Reunited will bring back a much-loved initiative providing regular sessions for siblings who may be impacted by having a brother or sister with a learning disability. This inspirational programme will allow siblings to meet others in a similar situation, learn more about their brother’s or sister’s learning disability and – most importantly – have fun!

LEAD by Example, Learning Essentials about Learning Disabilities

£600 

This inspirational staff-led initiative would fund the printing of a pocketbook guide to Learning Disabilities for GPs and other services across Dorset. The guide’s contents would be written and developed by the enthusiastic staff from the learning disability service in their free time. Adults with learning disabilities are vulnerable, and GPs and other services sometimes struggle to complete assessments, provide treatments, or recognise complex interactions between comorbidities these clients may present with.

Stammering support initiative 

Staff, parents and service users explain how the group has helped them and how the initiative has benefitted from Dragons' Den.

Emotional Wellbeing Toolkit

This educational idea for parents/carers, schools, children and young people is to develop starter Emotional Wellbeing Toolkits to help children and young people develop a range of tools and strategies to manage their emotions and feelings in a safe and effective way. The toolkit will support emotional wellbeing during times of anxiety, stress, worry and low mood and can be made by the child/young person themselves or with help and support from a parent/carer or trusted adult.

Emergency Care Physiotherapy Works

This innovative six-month pilot project to improve outcomes for patients and staff will see an Emergency Physiotherapy Practitioner (EPP) work in the Weymouth Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) alongside the multidisciplinary team (MDT). EPPs have been shown to reduce the number of adverse events within an emergency department, decrease referrals for radiographic imaging, prevent unnecessary admissions, and enable timely discharge of patients. If the pilot goes well, the aspiration will be to develop a business case to roll the service out across all our UTCs and MIUs to ensure patients right across Dorset have fair and easy access to emergency MSK assessment services.

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