This article originally appeared in Issue 89 of Spectra, NHS Tayside's staff magazine.
A volunteer pilot project which aims to understand and improve peoples’ experiences of being in hospital has proved a success.
The teams involved have a vision for all inpatient areas in every hospital in NHS Tayside to have access to a trained volunteer who can conduct interviews with patients face-to-face at the point of care or over the phone after discharge. Monica and Fraser, who are medical students from the University of Dundee, have been volunteering for two years with the practice development and clinical governance teams to co-design, test and evaluate a pilot of listening and learning from people about their hospital experiences.
Each month Monica and Fraser (pictured above), along with other trained volunteers, call people who have been discharged within the last 10-14 days to ask them to rate and discuss their experiences of care using a valid survey. Their responses are recorded on a bespoke Datix form and presented within 24 hours on Qlikview along with other quality indicators.
This approach has provided patients with the opportunity to discuss their experiences in an honest way with someone independent to the care team and has also ensured that those who have issues with literacy can easily take part.
Themes have been identified by the teams engaging in the pilot and staff have been working to improve specific aspects of people’s care such as:
- Communication – through reducing the use of jargon
- Information provision – by improving the consistency of information provided
- Quality of information – relating to people’s conditions, treatments and medications
- Visibility and accessibility of staff
This pilot has helped teams better understand patients’ experiences of care, to work in more person-centred ways and remove the need for staff to ask patients directly about their experiences or administer and input surveys.
It has also helped the volunteers see healthcare through the eyes of those who receive it, see and understand the complexities that clinical teams experience when providing care, allowed them to personally reflect on how they communicate with patients and staff, and improve their listening, questioning and summarising skills. The volunteers have found this to be a really helpful volunteering role, supporting them to develop their skills as they progress to being NHS practitioners.
Additionally, Monica and Fraser have enhanced their writing skills by working with the project lead to submit a paper for publication to an international, peer-reviewed journal describing the project and their reflections on how it has enhanced their skills and knowledge.
The Nursing and Midwifery Department is aiming to implement this as quality improvement activity in all wards. Work is ongoing to identify a valid tool and method for seeking feedback from different patient groups. In addition, significant numbers of people always get excluded from feedback requests due to cognitive impairment or dementia. The Nursing and Midwifery Department also has another project that is exploring how to best hear the voices of these people and is working with a multidisciplinary steering group, community patient groups and five wards across NHS Tayside.
Further information and support to gather and use patient feedback is available from patient feedback coordinator on email@example.com for inpatient areas or clinical governance and risk management facilitator Donna Kelbie on firstname.lastname@example.org for outpatient areas.
If you are interested generally in how volunteers might help you enhance your services please contact voluntary services manager Val Ewan on email@example.com. You can also view the issue of Spectra that featured this article here.