Navigating the pack ice to keep our patients safe and well

Navigating the pack ice to keep our patients safe and well

By Nicola Davey

Medication safety, safe discharge, reducing falls and pressure ulcers, low temperature and/blood glucose in babies, choosing where to die, sharing and reviewing care plans and improving team communication are some of the problems we’d all like to wish away – but as winter sets in we brace ourselves for the extra challenge that this brings and hope that it doesn’t hem us in, crush us or divert us from our longer term goals.

Whether you’re trying to take your team from ‘good’ to ‘excellent’, or tackling those tricky hot spots that ‘require improvement’ no-one wants to get diverted for too long, but not everyone has the internal capacity to counter a cold spell.

It’s not enough to be directed to the solution that works ‘down the road’ and hope that it works for you. For starters, ‘hope’ is not a plan, and for seconds, the system that YOUR staff contend with is different in many small but important ways, and so purposeful adaption is the least that will be required.

What I’ve learnt over many years, is that in order to improve patient safety, staff experience and patient satisfaction people need some other stuff too:

  • Help to choose and use diagnostic tools and techniques to understand each problem in its context and appreciate the specific environmental challenges that staff face every day.
  • Encouragement and feedback to grow our confidence to use these tools on a regular basis – making us more resourceful and resilient to confront and deal with many small things that must be sorted to bring about a sustained change.
  • Some space to acquire an appreciation of the long term investment required to sustain gains

A little can go a long way, and once people have these skills, they have them for life: to use and reuse and, if they are a good teacher, to pass on to others.

I see this every week as Nurses, Midwives, Physios, Paramedics and Occupational therapists in Wessex that I’ve trained take on more ambitious projects in their new Consultant roles, and as I walk alongside the next cohort as they start their journey, adding improvement science to their repertoire.

I see it with our paediatric trainees and patient reps as they improve ONE small thing for the children and families in their care. And I see it too with CCGs who are also exploring ways to use improvement science to increase efficiency and reduce waste as they continue to learn to do more, for more people, with the same or less.

If you see it happening too, or would like to, please do get in touch and share your story.