Hello! We’re Lucy and Alex and we are the Quality Improvement Leads for the Aspiring to Excellence programme. We work for the NHS Transformation Unit (TU) which is an NHS internal consultancy specialising in clinical redesign and transformation. Lucy has spent the past decade working with quality improvement (QI) in healthcare and Alex is a nurse by background who saw first-hand the impact and power of QI within our hospital settings.
We have the very privileged role of working closely with our Aspiring to Excellence sites supporting them to unlock the improvements within their services. We do this through a combination of approaches. The programme follows the IHI Breakthrough Series Collaborative approach which is a tried and tested methodology – more info can be found here.
We use a number of different approaches to inform and develop the teams who take part in the programme. The first three approaches relate to the Learning Sets and the fourth to the Action Period.
The first approach is educational input. We meet as a group 4 times a year and Lucy provides QI content for the teams to then apply to their own services. The second is to provide time for teams to work on their projects. The Aspiring to Excellence programme means teams have precious time away from their clinical and operational roles so we maximise this by providing time for teams to practically apply the QI methodology to a project that will make a difference for patients and for the staff. The third approach is to provide networking opportunities (both facilitated and unfacilitated). The teams have so much knowledge that time to share this and learn from each other is vital. We celebrate success and learn when things don’t as we expect.
It’s a well-recognised QI saying that there is no such thing as failure when you are testing improvement ideas, you have simply learnt more about your system.
The fourth approach takes place in the Action Periods between the Learning Sets where Alex meets with each team to have an Improvement Coaching session. This can take many different forms, from the team presenting the work to date and discussing pitfalls and recognising progress, to tackling a specific challenge or issue. Our role here is to be a critical friend, a champion of the team, a QI expert and a facilitator.
We both feel privileged to be able to support the Aspiring to Excellence programme and the teams taking part. The enthusiasm shown by each team, to make their services the best they possibly can be, continually reminds us why QI is so important in healthcare provision, and motivates us to continue supporting those who strive to make it better.
If you are interested in knowing more about quality improvement in healthcare, we recommend this Health Foundation guide as a great place to start.