The day began with a crowd pleasing joke-a-thon from Auz Chitewe, a man whose data bank for one liners, dad jokes and Quality Improvement (QI) based quips were unleashed, with no time for the audience to take in breath between the gag’s - a potential death by comedy risk to the QI conference opening. A hard act to follow, Mary Elford stepped up to the plate.
What was presented was almost bamboozling, an NHS employee standing up in a crowd saying how successful the organisation has been since the introduction of QI three years ago. Not a mention of finance, or generic patient engagement surveys but a gushing of success with data that tells stories. Staff working as teams with service users to measure improvement and bringing in their excitement of change that nicely ties into the Sustainability Transformation Plans (recently christened Sticky Toffee Pudding and reported on by the BBC). As conference attendees we were invited to explore, probe and investigate the many hundreds of QI projects ELFT has delivered/delivering and importantly consider the possibilities of how the QI work could translate across to our own trusts.
East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) certainly are proud of the work they have done and rightly so, having trained 1474 people and published 13 papers over the last 3 years. They have been awarded CQC ‘outstanding’ and recognised nationally and internationally for the improved delivery of services, quality of care and service user involvement but are only too happy to say “We still have a thirst for improvement” and have no plans to rest on their laurels as there is more to be done....
A selection of QI project videos then played, where clinical staff shared their take on QI and the impact it has directly made on reducing ward based aggression, increased service user involvement in healthy living (self care) programmes, benefited referral processes and shown how safety on wards is improving.
ELFT’s mission was displayed for all to see, on a driver diagram, showing a display of how to live the values of QI by using the very tools that build into QI work.
Breaking rules and having a different mindset are required. The work itself is hard, but this is understandable; trying to shift the mindset of an organisation (NHS) that had its values set over two generations ago is not an overnight job. But the success to make change happen within ELFT are clearly displayed for all to see for the data lovers, medically minded and strategists amongst us.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” Dalai Lama XIV
Seeing the level of self-praise at “how good we are” could be considered by some as show-boating, but isn’t it time that as an NHS we celebrate our success? Recognise our impact for positive change and take a sigh of relief that there is more localised control on improvement with service user involvement, ELFT certainly have a considerable wealth of evidence to support their view of how good they are, so a justified praise-giving is more the case here.
After the plenary those amongst us were split up into world cafés for an opportunity to learn in more detail about 3 different and current QI projects, with other smaller sessions on ‘scale up and spread’ and ‘service users and carers involvement’ available.