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First impressions count!

01/04/2019

A new approach is being adopted to put the spotlight on the quality of clinical areas on wards across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals.

A squad of staff and governors will be calling in unannounced on wards and will be working with staff as part of a new quality assurance programme called 15 steps. Those visiting the wards have all undertaken training to carry out the assessments.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust’s interim chief nurse Ellie Monkhouse said: “Patient and staff experience is absolutely key in all that we do. That is why we are rolling out this simple but effective way of measuring the first impressions of what you see and feel when walking onto our wards.

“I want to make sure people coming onto our wards, either as a patient or a visitor, have a positive experience. By looking at the environment, and taking on board views from patients and staff, we can build a picture of that area and see where we can make improvements.”

The nursing team across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals have piloted the 15 steps challenge and will be rolling it out this month (April). 15 steps focuses on ward walk arounds where the team considers their first impressions of the area from the perspective of a service user.

It is being rolled out as part of the Future 5 nursing and midwifery priorities for 2019/20 which have been developed by the chief nursing team. Ellie said: “15 steps is one of a number of initiatives we will be implementing which will provide us with feedback about the challenges our staff are facing on their wards, as well as the experience our patients are getting.

“By adopting this simple assessment it will help us to improve the quality of care and patient experience we deliver.”

Melanie Sharp, assistant chief nurse, said: “First impressions count. When patients, relatives and carers walk onto a ward they get a feel of how it looks, feels and the quality of treatment they will receive. 

“We are using the 15 steps challenge methodology to carry out unannounced visits to our wards to look at them through the eyes of our patients. It is about those all-important first impressions and what they say about the wards and the staff working on there.”

Melanie said: “In one sentence, in 15 steps of walking onto a ward, is it cluttered, is it noisy, what does it smell like, what is the décor like? All of these things give us an immediate picture.” 

The team will be made up of lead nurses, ward sisters, ward staff and governors and they will be visiting wards, speaking to patients and making an assessment. Each ward will be visited twice a year and will receive a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. This is based on the Care Quality Commission’s key lines of enquiry and will allow the Trust to understand the issues affecting staff on the frontline, and provide support to make things better. 

Melanie said: “It is about sharing good practice, as well as providing support to areas to make changes that will help improve the patient experience. It could be something as simple as making sure the hand gel dispensers are routinely cleaned and filled, or areas that need a lick of paint or better storage for their equipment.” 

Scunthorpe’s ward 27 piloted the new programme.  Wyn Davis, staff nurse, said: “It certainly focused our minds on what is important to patients, relatives and carers. We are so wrapped up in what we are doing that we often don’t see things through the eyes of our patients.”

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