The QI Hub by Wendy Chambers

 

 Wendy C 1

 

Wednesday 19th of April – Marks the official launch of The Quality Improvement Hub for Dumfries and Galloway

Our vision: To support health and social care staff to design and deliver services that better meet the changing needs and aspirations of people, families and communities that access care.

The purpose: Quality is everyone’s responsibility. We aim to build a culture where continuous improvement is the norm and develop a network to share resources, learn and work together, to make it easier to do the right thing at the right time, every time.

Wendy C 2The QI Hub is a creative space where you can connect with others throughout health & social care, people with a passion to make a difference. Thinking space, away from the hustle & bustle that is daily life!! Come and find a supportive network of colleagues, share experiences and learning. Choose from a library of resources and practical tools to help structure your improvement projects and explore development and coaching opportunities.

Wendy C 3Building capability and capacity to lead improvement is vital, it empowers people and teams to own change; one resource available is a locally delivered Scottish Improvement Skills Programme. To illustrate how this is already having impact Wendy Chambers, who has recently graduated from Cohort 1, shares her reflections.

3 lessons from Scottish Improvement Skills (SIS) in D&G

Having recently completed cohort 1 of the SIS course in Dumfries, with a project that hasn’t gone quite according to plan, I thought I’d share 3 things I’ve learned along the way.

Lesson 1 – I’m not alone

I’ve always been comfortable questioning my own clinical practice; to be honest I ask “why” and “how” about most things in life; it drives my other half, and now as a parent I can appreciate must have driven my parents, mad! For me though questioning things is a reason why I get out of bed in the morning and keeps my job interesting and challenging. But in my 20 plus years of clinical practice, in many different settings, I’m acutely aware that not everyone thinks as I do…. then came SIS.

I walked into a room, filled with 30 other people, on the first day of the course and I felt like I had arrived, I’d come home! These were my people, this was my tribe – we spoke the same language, had the same fire in our bellies and were comfortable with the “what if …” questions!

Wendy C 4Being surrounded by similar and like minded people; learning from each other, sharing ideas, both the things that go well and the things that fail – I’ve come to appreciate that this support is essential to the process of implementing and testing change ideas. Because when I go back out into the real world, with all its pressures and realities, the natives won’t necessarily be as welcoming or receptive to my “bright ideas” and things won’t feel as cosy.  So now I won’t be alone, I’ve found my tribe, I’ve found support.

Lesson 2 – “Whose project is it anyway?”

The SIS course has given me an opportunity to consider and reflect on the process of implementing a change idea from conception through, in theory, to completion. And one of the fundamental pieces of learning for me has been – it’s all about the relationships; the people who I need to work with and who need to work together cohesively, in order to try things out.

None of us like, or take kindly, to being told what to do, regardless of how much positive evidence there may be that it’s the right thing to do. We all like to feel and be in control of our own destiny and decisions, try things out and discover for ourselves – and I’m no different from anyone else, in fact I’m possibly worse!

A change project idea that one person has come up with is exactly that – it’s their idea, their project.  It doesn’t, at that point, belong to the team for whom it is intended will be the “willing” guinea pigs to trial and develop the ideas. At that point it is “my project, not yours” and “your project, not mine”.

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I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my current and also previous projects, consider and question when I’ve done this well and a team has taken on board an idea and really owned it and made it their own and when it has most definitely remained my idea and no one else has bought in.
And my reflections go back to the relationships and the time that I have spent in this part of the process as a whole. And I realise that the time spent in the planning, alongside and with the others who will be involved and affected by the change idea is essential to the process, not the icing on the cake.

This isn’t new, or rocket science, any leadership book or workshop will include this – but we rarely have the luxury of “thinking space” to reflect on our learning.  And having a space, such as the SIS course, where failure is seen as valuable a part of learning as success has been enlightening, reassuring – it feels like home.

Lesson 3 – Skills

Apart from the thinking and reflection space the SIS course has also given me an opportunity to learn some real, practical skills and to relearn some old ones. I feel as if I now have a working toolbox of things which I can use and try out next time around, and every time around, when my next bright idea pops up.  I also have access to a whole tribe of people who can help me when I get stuck – which I will.

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Old dogs, New tricks, nothing new under the sun.

But in the current health and social care climate things have never felt so uncertain, it’s all about change and innovation. We are all being expected to get comfortable in a world which is full of discomfort and will be constantly shifting. In this world my learning and reflection would be – get skilled, take time building relationships, find your tribe!

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Wendy Chambers is  a Mental Health Occupational Therapist and AHP Practice Education Lead at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

The QI Hub is for you and your team and you’re invited to actively contribute. Your ideas, knowledge and experiences are crucial to ensure the hub provides what you want!

Join us on Wednesday 19th April 2017, Conference Room, Crichton Hall. Programme and registration available by contacting Stevie.johnstone@nhs.net

QI Hub Development Team

Cutting the Sugar…. by Fiona Green

Over the last 2 years NHS DG have been offering a structured programme of work experience to young people in their final years at school thinking about a career in medicine. This has been very well received by the young people who attend and the success of the programme is largely down to excellent organisation and communication skills of Anne-Marie Coxon and her team in the education centre who arrange tasters in various areas of medicine including medical admissions, theatre, surgery and A&E along with some time with me in the diabetes centre

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Linocut by Hugh Bryden Crichton Hall- home to the Dumfries Galloway Diabetes centre

As a clinician it has been really interesting to spend time with these young people who have yet to develop preconceived ideas about healthcare and for me to try and understand what it is that excites them about spending a lifetime in medicine and to try and remember what it was that motivated me to apply for medicine and ultimately what made me move into Diabetes and Endocrinology.

For those of you who know me you will have heard me say that it is diabetes that excites me rather than the rare and esoteric conditions that I deal with in the endocrine service but I recognise that despite my real enthusiasm and commitment to improving care in diabetes that when these young work experience students come to diabetes clinic I sometimes find myself apologising to them that I don’t have any exciting procedures to show them, or new diagnoses to make; in fact in diabetes clinic I rarely examine people and I spend my time just listening to things that seem unrelated to sugar levels and talking…..

Just Listening and Talking…

The fact that I feel the need to apologise about the nature of diabetes clinic being  “just listening and talking” has made me realise  how little value we as hospital healthcare professionals place on these core skills that we all use every day. We are required to do mandatory training in many important areas such managing the deteriorating patient, infection control, awareness and fairness to name a few- yet it is possible for a healthcare professional to go through their in working career without any update, assessment or post graduate training in the core communication skills that we use every day. This lack of post graduate training in clinical communication skills is particularly apparent in the acute hospital setting compared to our colleagues in general practice and psychiatry where advanced post graduate training in consultation skills is the norm. Despite the seemingly acute nature of a hospital environment many of us spend a large part of our working week in clinics working with people to try and improve their health and wellbeing but what are we doing to ensure that these interactions are effective and meet the patient’s agenda?  Do we find it easier and quicker to pursue our own agendas and default into education mode rather that hearing about what is really important?  Several research studies have shown that by exploring a person’s background, worries and their understanding of their condition can help to avoid unnecessary investigations or anxiety for the patient as well as reduce the strain on resources[i][ii]

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The success of the late Dr Kate Granger’s “Hello my name is …” movement and the “What Matters to Me” campaign show that in acute setting healthcare teams are beginning to contemplate a change to a more patient centred rather than the traditional paternalistic, didactic approach to our interactions with patients but this change is slow and these important initiatives are only an entry level to improving our communication with the people we see in clinic and reaching a shared agenda.

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Locally Jean Robson and her colleagues from psychology, human resources and other interested clinicians have recently worked hard to put together a directory of diverse courses and programmes which are delivered locally by NHS Dumfries and Galloway aimed at improving advanced communication skills including sessions on communication skills which allow individuals to film and review their performance in real life clinic setting (been there and done that -daunting but very helpful), communicating with people with existing communication difficulties, human factors training and sessions on communicating with colleagues in meetings to name a few

So, back to the title of “cutting the sugar”. The discovery of insulin almost 100 years ago is one of medicine’s most remarkable discoveries changing the outcomes for people diagnosed with type 1 immeasurably as the before and after pictures below poignantly demonstrate

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December 1922

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February 1923

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Child 3” before and 3 months after insulin treatment

There is of course a but; insulin is not a cure for type 1 diabetes just a treatment and Insulin treatment brings with it a huge burden for the person with type 1 diabetes- blood testing more than 4 times a day, injecting insulin at least 5 times a day, assessing the carbohydrate content of foods are all required to achieve the tight blood sugar targets required to maintain health and wellbeing. This all needs to be balanced against activity levels and avoidance of hypoglycaemia. People with diabetes can never have a day off.  They become experts in managing their blood sugar levels and this brings me to the “just listening and talking bit”. Listening to what’s important to people when I’m clinic seemed more time-consuming in the beginning but by encouraging this shared understanding I have come to recognise that almost universally people with type 1 diabetes want to be healthy and that they fully understand the importance of controlling blood glucose but what I also now appreciate more clearly is that there are many other things that get in the way of achieving this goal. Some of these barriers to change seem obvious e.g. fear of hypoglycaemia, fear of injections but others may take gentle probing to identify e.g. the young woman who removed her insulin pump because she had a new boyfriend who didn’t know she had diabetes, the young mum on her own putting her own health after the needs of her family. Through training, practice and reflection I have come to learn is that each person is different and whilst a particular solution may work for one person it might not work for the next and whilst the temptation is for me to offer the solutions that I think will work by practicing the skills I have learnt at various communication skills sessions I now recognise that solutions generated by the person with diabetes are far more likely to be successful that anything that I may suggest. Of course very few consultations are perfect and like every skill we use practice, reflection and additional training can help us to improve which is why I believe that consultation and communication skills shouldn’t be seen as just “the icing on the cake” but more of the “meat on the bones” of our daily work.

Dr Fiona Green is a Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

[i] Heisler M, Bouknight RR, Hayward RA, Smith DM, Kerr EA (April 2002). “The relative importance of physician communication, participatory decision making, and patient understanding in diabetes self-management”. J Gen Intern Med. 17 (4): 243–52. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2002.

[ii] eisler M, Bouknight RR, Hayward RA, Smith DM, Kerr EA (April 2002). “The relative importance of physician communication, participatory decision making, and patient understanding in diabetes self-management”. J Gen Intern Med. 17 (4): 243–52. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2002.

Why wont MY ‘thing’ go viral? by Ros Gray

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Dreams are made when your great idea gets out there in this social world and goes viral. The very thought that thousands of people (likeminded as you) are looking at your good idea and thinking – “That’s a great idea, I could do that”
especially in our health and social care world when it isn’t necessarily the idea that’s new (although sometimes it is) but the ability to engage others to get them to follow your lead, for the benefit of patients and families.

So when things take off in this way, is it just good luck, or is there something we can learn? How does a good idea move from being MY great idea to something that a lot of other people want to do too?

In his New Yorker article ‘Slow ideas’ Gawande started my thinking on this topic (and a million other things!) when he discussed the evolution of surgical anaesthesia compared with the uptake of antiseptics to prevent sepsis. He described how the former spread almost worldwide in 7 years, the latter taking more than 30 years (and you might argue that the inability to clean our hands consistently even today means that we still haven’t cracked it).
It’s easy to imagine the difficulty undertaking any surgical procedure on a patient not anaesthetised (not least for the patient) – having your colleagues hold down the poor patient until such time as they (hopefully) passed out with the agony of the ordeal. Then you hear of an innovation where the patient inhales a gas and goes gently to sleep, allowing the procedure to be done with ease – a no brainer in terms of its likelihood to be adopted by others… and swiftly! The action of holding down the screaming patient and wrestling to undertake the procedure was clearly very personal and real for all those present.
However, the use of antiseptics to prevent an infection that the practitioner might never even see personally, leaves a lot to the imagination and limited personal cost, with the exception more latterly of professional reputation and in some quarters accreditation.
This situation was also exacerbated by the unpleasantness of the environment, where the practice of good antisepsis in the early days meant that theatres were gassed with antiseptics, hands scrubbed raw with early chemicals – all to prevent something that the practitioner might never witness… Perhaps, then, it’s easy to see why that adoption took longer than 30 years. Or is there more to it than that?

Gawande’s article goes much further and is very thought provoking but he fundamentally sets out how, if we want our ‘thing’ to be taken up by others at scale, then “…technology and incentive programs are not enough. “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,” wrote Everett Rogers, the great scholar of how new ideas are communicated and spread.”
He goes on to say that while our new social world can get the ideas out there
as Rogers showed, “…people follow the lead of other people they know and trust when they decide whether to take it up. Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process.”

I think these might be key concepts for us to consider with our personal improvement efforts. How hard do we make it to do the right thing?

Looking around at some other recent great ideas gone viral that I have become aware of – I thought it might be helpful for us to take a closer look at these and consider their spread from this perspective – I thank Delivering the Future Cohort 11 for their help with my developing thinking #DTFcohort11.

And also to consider how would the business world more broadly consider this issue?
Great marketers certainly start with two concepts that absolutely relate to our world and reflect Gawande’s thinking:
Know your audience
and
Make an emotional connection.

So looking at 3 examples of great ideas that have gone viral a little closer to home, can we identify the critical success factors that made them work so that we can apply that learning to our own work?

Case 1 – What matters to me

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Who Jennifer Rodgers @jenfrodgers Lead Nurse for Paediatrics NHS GG&C
What What Matters To Me (WMTM)

WMTM is a 3 step approach

1 Asking what matters

2 Listening to what matters

3 Doing what matters

Why “Clinicians, in turn, need to relinquish their role as the single, paternalistic authority and train to become more effective coaches or partners — learning, in other words, how to ask, ‘What matters to you?’ as well as ‘What is the matter?’”
Where Yorkhill Children’s Hospital Glasgow – global
When Last 4 years
How Originally Jens’ Quality and Safety Fellowship project, building on the concept of Lauren’s list in the USA; national and international presentations, Used the Model for Improvement as the improvement method. Started by asking one child to draw what mattered to them, and staff making every effort to include and react positively to this information –  now used routinely as part of the paediatric admission process. Spread includes other specialties such as the Care of Older People and those with Dementia.

Case 2 Hello my name is…

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Who The sadly very recently deceased Kate Granger (http://hellomynameis.org.uk @grangerkate) a young doctor battling at the time with terminal cancer, made observations about the human interactions she was struggling with at a very vulnerable time.
What Kate decided to start a campaign, primarily using social media initially, to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare.
Why She made the stark observation that many staff looking after her did not introduce themselves before delivering her care. She felt it incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing. After ranting at her husband during one evening visiting time he encouraged her to “stop whinging and do something!”
Where NHS England – Global
When Last 3 years
How Twitter campaign initially – #hellomynameis has made over 1 billion impressions since its inception with an average of 6 tweets an hour.

Kate has left an incredible legacy with #hellomynameis that will continue to impact positively for patients.

Case 3 The Daily Mile

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Who Elaine Wylie – Headteacher (recently retired) St Ninian’s Primary School, Stirling

thedailymile.co.uk

What The aim of the Daily Mile is to improve the physical, emotional and social health and wellbeing of our children –regardless of age or personal circumstances.
Why It is a profoundly simple but effective concept, which any primary school or nursery can implement. Its impact can be transformational- improving not only the childrens’ fitness, but also their concentration levels, mood, behaviour and general wellbeing.
Where St Ninian’s Primary School, Stirling – global
When Last 3 years
How The Daily Mile takes place over just 15 minutes, with children averaging a mile each day.

Children run outside in the fresh air – and the weather is a benefit, not a barrier. 

There’s no set up, tidy up, or equipment required.

Children run in their uniforms so no kit or changing time is needed.

It’s social, non-competitive and fun.

It’s fully inclusive; every child succeeds, whatever their circumstances, age or ability.

Elaine demonstrated huge impact on eliminating obesity in her primary one class that had stated the Daily Mile in Nursery.

In each of the cases the idea started with one individual who had a simple, sensible, not necessarily unique idea, but certainly something that was a bit different from the status quo – perhaps even challenging and making the status quo uncomfortable.
Each leader had a degree of power and autonomy in their local context, for Kate this was as an informed patient, so some might argue her ability to influence would have been limited.
Each idea was simple and easy to try in different arenas.
Each was free or relatively low cost to implement, even at scale.
The impact on patients or children was obvious or in the course of early testing clearly demonstrated.
Each leader used social platforms as a spread mechanism.
In every case, the idea clearly feels like it was the right thing to do, or scandalous that it wasn’t happening routinely, something each of us would want to happen if we were the subjects in question. Perhaps even the standard we apply every day in our professional or personal lives and assume that everyone else does too.
So clear evidence to support Rodgers view that “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,” – Perhaps the easy access to social platforms in these cases made ‘people talking to people’ helped in these cases?
Each leader knew their audience and played to that strength – but also and perhaps most importantly in each case, the emotional connection is huge, but each from a very different perspective.
Is the emotional connection the critical success factor in these cases – and something we should consider carefully if we want our work to spread?
Which emotions might you tap in to when trying to engage folk in your great idea? Emotions described in pairs of polar opposites might give you some food for thought and a place to start with your great idea:
Joy or sadness
Anticipation or surprise
Fear or anger
Disgust or trust

You will have many more thoughts than time permits here, but I leave you with a thought of mine… perhaps we all have an opportunity to use a more considered approach to the scale up and spread of good intentions by learning from those that have done that well.
If not you, who? If not now, when?

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Simple checklist
How simple have I described my great idea – Have I got my 1-minute ‘elevator pitch’ worked out to easily influence others?
Does it feel the right thing to do?
Is it relatively cheap or free? If not who will fund the idea, now and then at scale?
Am I convinced that it isn’t happening to every patient/family every time, reliably? Do I have the data that proves that?
Do I have the power to influence, or if not, who do I have to get on board?
Do I have the data and story to describe how it works and how easy it is to adopt, including the impact?
What social platform for spread will I use?
Which emotions are triggered, or will I aim to tap in to, in order to engage people to want to do things differently?

Ros Gray recently retired from her post as National Lead for the Early Years Collaborative. Prior to that post she was Head of Patient Safety for Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

 

Fire in your belly by Euan Macleod

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What is the fire in your belly?

Euan 2When it comes to what you do? Do you feel passion for it and are you excited about the possibilities that could come your way, or is it a bit like the guys with the Gaviscon have just hosed you down and your fire is quelled?

 

 

Fire in your belly-you know when you’ve got it

You feel it

Euan 3Sometimes it is hard to find time to listen to our feelings in the midst of busy work schedules, the passion that you first felt when you entered a career in the NHS may have become blunted by the daily trudge-is it always going to be like that?

I recently mentioned in a blog the creation of the NHS and the welfare state.

Beveridge had a passion for that, but where did that passion come from?

Beveridge’ report might have been destined to be another dry and dusty Government document. What made it a huge public best seller was its breathtaking vision and passionate language. The fiery rhetoric largely came from Scotland after weekends spent with Jessy Mair in the spring and summer of 1942.

Jessy was Beveridge’s close confidante and companion for many years. His biographer, Jose Harris, highlights her influence on him during his visits north of the border:

“Much of his report was drafted after weekends with her in Edinburgh and it was she who urged him to imbue his proposals with a ‘Cromwellian spirit’ and messianic tone. ‘How I hope you are going to preach against all gangsters,’ she wrote. ‘who for their mutual gain support one another in upholding all the rest. For that is really what is happening still in England’. . . .”

Beveridge didn’t miss; the report sold 100,000 copies within a month. Special editions were printed for the forces.

The gangsters referred to by Jessy Mair were the deliverers of health care who profited from the sickness, squalor and disease prevalent at that time. Beveridge clarion call to a sense of community welfare based on need and not ability to pay heralded the start of the NHS.

No surprise that today many of us remain passionate about the values and aspirations of the health service, a service that many of us have experienced as employees, patients and carers of loved ones. There is still some fiery rhetoric and a will to retain and improve on the values and service which the NHS provides.

But it won’t be easy in this time of austerity.

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It might need

Guts-More fight

Grit-More passion

Gumption-Being courageous

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It means that you find a way to get better

It means that you’re putting in every ounce of extra effort you have

It means that you get pushed down but don’t stay there

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Easy to say

Perhaps harder to achieve

But unstoppable when it starts

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So what’s your passion and where is it taking you? Share the fire in your belly, it could start a bonfire

Euan McLeod is a Senior Project Officer for the National Bed Planning Toolkit

 

 

 

 

A Message from the CMO @CathCalderwood1

I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute an update to the Dghealth blog.

This year has got off to a busy start for me with the launch by all of the four UK CMOs of the consultation on alcohol guidelines for lower-risk drinking, and my first annual report as Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, calling for a debate on Realistic Medicine.

The guidelines advise men and women not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week, spread drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week and if you want to cut down how much you’re drinking. A good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week. It can be a bit tricky to understand and remember how much alcohol is in drinks, and how this can affect our health. The low risk guidelines can help with this, if you choose to drink. No-one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by sticking within these guidelines, you can lower your risk of harming your health if you drink most weeks. I was pleased that the new guidance also takes account of the harmful effects of binge-drinking, and brings the rest of the UK into line with Scotland by advising women not to drink any alcohol during pregnancy.

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One of the ways I try to be accessible is via my blog and Twitter feed – it was interesting to see the comments on twitter around the alcohol guideline launch, ranging from welcoming to “killjoy”. Change is always going to cause a reaction – but since the guidelines are in response to evidence of the risk of alcohol causing cancer the UK CMOs have to get our message across, however difficult that may be, so people can them make their own informed choices.

The reaction to my annual report on Realistic Medicine has been more universally positive, in the media and through feedback on twitter and my blog. The report contains the traditional publication of “health of the nation” issues examining a range of population health surveillance data and outbreaks of disease etc but the key theme is ‘Realistic Medicine’ and what this can mean for the challenges that face doctors as a profession and in healthcare. I launched the report at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh with Dave Caesar, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, NHS Lothian and Dr Caroline Whitworth, Renal Consultant, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

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I followed this up with a discussion about the questions I raise in the report with a group of about 20 doctors from NHS Lothian. This is the beginning of engagement I want to undertake across Scotland to hear views of doctors who are well placed to come up with the answers to how we improve shared decision-making; ensure we deliver person-centred care; reduce unnecessary variation in treatment and outcomes; as well as reduce harm and waste (including over-treatment) for the people doctors treat. My team produced a very helpful infographic setting out these questions and we have a range of materials for anyone in the profession who wants to discuss this among themselves and feedback to me via the clinician survey.

I would welcome feedback from everyone on the report so l can use it to inform health policy. My role and that of my team consisting of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith and senior medical officers and speciality advisers is to provide the clinical voice in decision-making. As healthcare professionals we have useful knowledge and expertise to guide policy and our input is vital. I would welcome your input to help us to carry out that role effectively. I can be reached in a number of ways: 

 

Email: cmo@gov.scot

Twitter: @CathCalderwood1 [https://twitter.com/CathCalderwood1]

Blog: http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/cmo

CMO on LinkedIN

 

Catherine

Thank you to Ward 18 and DGRI by Kevin Irving

Dear Mr Ace,

I am writing to you to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the staff in Ward 18 (Elderly Care) of the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. Whilst I was visiting the UK my Mother took critically ill and was admitted to the hospital where she received excellent care from the doctors and staff on this particular ward. I spent nearly 4 to 5 hours a day in the hospital for over 15 days attending my mother’s bedside and could observe the highest quality of care. Having worked in health and safety in my career as a mining engineer, at the most senior executive level, for over 35 years I can honestly comment that the leadership and team work on Ward 18 was some of the best I have seen and is a credit to the staff.

The doctors on the ward, from the lead consultant caring for my mother to the rest of the team, showed enormous care and compassion to my mother’s needs and requests. My mother made what I think we all would agree was a remarkable recovery. During the difficult time of when my mother was very ill the doctors ensured that both my sister and I were well informed and we were able to have very open and honest discussions regarding my mother’s care. They also showed compassion towards my sister and my own feelings through what was a very stressful period.

Ward 18

I would like to give special thanks to Snr Charge Nurse Janice Cluckie who demonstrates incredible leadership to her staff and also discussed my mother’s needs with empathy and thoughtfulness. It was clear to see that she took time to see that all patients on her ward were well cared for. Janice is certainly a role model that your organisation should be proud of.

I have nothing but praise for the ward staff who showed consideration and care for all the patients. From a visitors point of view I saw total dedication to their duty for the well-being of their patients with humbleness and sincere kind heartedness.

Whilst spending time in the area I had the opportunity to look around the premises and surf the internet about the hospital. I see from your Board papers and Inspectors reports that you have some areas for improvement. I can only say from my observations that you certainly appear to be on a positive trend. I noted in your most recent Board papers that complaints about the hospital service are on the increase. I would recommend making a KPI of some of the positive comments you may be receiving, such as this letter, as they may show another side of the story or use information from the website www.patientopinion.org.uk or NHS Choices website.

As an aside I used the dining room daily at lunch times and the food served was of good healthy quality, a good price and presented by excellent welcoming staff. I feel the NHS food is sometimes often viewed negatively. I can only say that Dumfries and Galloway seem to be improving this aspect of patient and staff care.

I would be very grateful if you could ensure that the leadership team of Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary give some recognition and positive feedback on my behalf to the doctors and staff on Ward 18.

With many thanks, yours sincerely

Kevin Irving

Kevin, who lives in Australia, added a handwritten post script which read “Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the sunny side of Down Under.”

Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees… by Laura White

In September 2015 when my team and I were at the glittering Excellence in Care Awards ceremony at Easterbrook Hall after being nominated for not one, but two awards, I found myself pondering what it took for us to get from our lowest low to our highest high…

In early 2014 the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate walked into ICU unannounced and unearthed a catalogue of issues that turned our world upside down. In an instant our team went from a well-oiled machine to a rusty old tractor not knowing how to function.

The title of the blog sums up what we thought, as an organisation none of us could see what the Healthcare Inspectorate saw, we were in fact too close, too involved. For all our nursing care was never in question, we still doubted our abilities as nurses and wondered whether we were failing at the job we worked so hard at and got so much satisfaction from. The shame and embarrassment of having our place of work discussed in the newspapers and throughout the hospital, whilst trying to ‘keep it together’ still caring for critically ill patients and their families, was an overwhelmingly stressful time for all of us. The whole time we seemed to only have one question for each other…”How did this happen?” We put all our time and effort in to caring for our patients, did it matter that there wasn’t a record of the shelves being wiped down? Yes it did.

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We listened to feedback, sought advice and did extensive research around the way we did things. We really dug deep and relearned our roles to include a vast new array of cleaning and infection control measures. It took months of liaising with the Infection Control Team, Domestic Services, Medics, Management, and Estates to name a few. There was clarification sought for EVERYTHING, from everyday things like bed bathing a patient to the fear of the effects of excessive Actichlor on our health.

The transition period between the inspection and the refurbishment of ICU put strain on everyone involved, however during this time it became apparent how well we pulled together, worked as a team and were committed to putting the broken pieces back together in order to be the best we could be. Staff came in to help in their own time, worked extra shifts and there was actually a lot of excitement about working in the newly refurbished unit, it was like a blank canvas. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all plain sailing, the months following the inspection included periods of extremely low staff morale, increased sickness absence and an emotionally fragile workforce who at times found it difficult to talk about what happened to us. We eventually found that discussing the experience with colleagues and other professionals did help to rid us of some of the mixed emotions we were struggling with. Thankfully there did come a time when we realised we had to stop looking back and start looking forward and take the good from a bad situation.

We slowly began to regain confidence in ourselves and became very proud of our ‘new’ unit. During this time it became clear just how many of us had ‘a touch of OCD’! There were times when you could probably have eaten your dinner off the floor in ICU, and we just stopped short of putting Actichlor in our cereal! We now work relentlessly keeping our very extensive cleaning schedule up to date and everyone is involved in adhering to our philosophy of cleanliness, God help anyone who tries to put their gloves and aprons in a domestic stream waste bin! We really are acutely aware of everything now.

We knew that changing habits would be the hardest part but also that these changes had to be sustainable and over time these changes have become the new norm for us. These are the changes which are now the norm to the new staff that have joined us since the inspection and will undoubtedly evolve and develop in the future, as everything does in nursing.  The HEI inspectors have since returned to the unit and saw a drastic improvement in all aspects of cleanliness, which we knew they would.

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Winning the Excellence in Care award for Infection Prevention in a way closed the chapter on the hard times we faced in 2014 and reinforced to us how we took the best from it and got to where we are today. We are dedicated, committed and knowledgeable in Infection Prevention and have regained the confidence we lost when our unit was put under the microscope.

As the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Laura White is the Senior Charge Nurse for ICU and Surgical HDU at DGRI