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More Support, More Ideas, More Sharing

“The Angels community is a place where you will find more. More support, more ideas, more sharing, and ultimately better results,” writes Jan van der Merwe in his introduction to the spring edition of The Angels Journey, now a digital insert in the European Stroke Journal.
Angels team 29 May 2023


Seven years ago, when we were still developing the concept for the Angels Initiative, I tried to come up with a statement to describe what we wanted the Angels community to be like.

Having worked with behavioural change expert and best-selling author Chip Heath, I already knew that if we wanted to achieve real success, we had to create a community that people would want to belong to. It would be a place where people would feel supported, where they could learn, and where they could find motivation from others facing the same challenges as them.

This was our community vision statement: “The Angels community is a place where you will find more. More support, more ideas, more sharing, and ultimately better results.” This “more” included sharing thought-provoking perspectives and inspiring stroke care stories from around the world.

In this issue of the Angels Journey, you can eavesdrop on a conversation between two Angels consultants from very different parts of the world – Sol Plamenatz, Angels team leader for Ecuador and Peru, and Bayan Alfoqha, Angels consultant in Jordan. It was Sol’s closing words that reminded me of our original community statement.

She said: “We are happy when we see stories from countries we’ve never been to, we’re interested in replicating good practices from people we don’t know, and we celebrate the successes of hospitals we’ve never heard of before. It’s not just with the doctors and hospitals, we are a motivation to each other.”

Sol’s words serve as a perfect introduction to the stories in this edition of the Angels Journey. Among them, you will find stories about good practices from people you don’t know, but that you may want to replicate in your own hospital. One such story is about a hospital in Miechów in southern Poland where the EMS team were so eager to contribute to the excellent work of the hospital team that they told them, “Whatever you need, just tell us and we will do it!”

You can also celebrate the successes of hospitals you may never have heard of – like Padua University Hospital in Italy, and Odesa Regional Clinical Hospital in Ukraine. Their circumstances couldn't be more different; they both have challenges to overcome. And overcome them they did as both were destined for the stage at ESOC in Munich, where they would receive their Diamond awards during the Presidential session.

You will also read some amazing stories from cities I’m almost certain you have never been to. Like the story from Most, a town near the north-western border of the Czech Republic who had to move their Gothic church more than 800 meters to a new location to make way for a coal-mining operation. Or the island without a sea as the nurses from the district hospital described Portalegre, a North Alejentan town located in the foothills of the Serra de São Mamede.

In our story about Most you will learn how the stroke team took the same stepwise approach to improving their stroke care, as the church-moving team decades ago.

Our story about Portalegre, where our Angels consultant recognised the need to connect the isolated hospital with the rest of the Portuguese stroke community, is a reminder that it is through connecting with others that we grow. There’s no better demonstration of the power of community, unless it’s in our story about the Melhora Quem Sabe project in Portugal where peer pressure is driving the implementation of quality monitoring and creating new potentially life-saving habits.

A community is made up of people, though, and in our second story from Poland a nurse opens her heart and pays tribute to the nurses that constitute her local community. It is a fitting celebration of nurses during this month-long celebration around International Nurses Day that reminds us of the power of nursing every May.

It is our sincere hope that being part of this community inspires you as much as it does us and that, to paraphrase Sol, reading the stories of people you may never meet, but who share your challenges, will inspire you to provide your patients with the best possible care – the care they deserve.


Jan van der Merwe – Angels Project Lead


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