Here's some help to get you started on your way to implementing Standard 2, which offers more challenges than the other nine National Safety and Quality in Health Care standardsMany small hospitals recruit a consultant to help them implement the 10 National Safety and Quality in Health Care (NSQHC) standards, but a consultant can only do so much. At some point, the owner or senior management needs to become involved in the implementation and execution of all 10 standards effectively and appropriately. Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers seems to offer more challenges than the other nine. This is because thinking care is reasonable and getting good feedback from an annual survey is not enough. Involvement with consumers progresses across a continuum of participation, building from a passive relationship to fully involved consumer engagement at a management level. Here are 10 tips to start you on your way:
1. Don’t be scared of it and don’t ignore it
This standard seems intimidating because we don’t really understand what an auditor is going to look for. Unlike the other NSQHC standards, especially Standard 3: Infection Control, there is no definitive list of things to achieve. Overcome your fear of Standard 2 by looking at it, and accessing the Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC)’s website for changes. If you choose to ignore this standard, you will achieve ‘not met’ ratings, and, have a relatively short time to rectify it.
2. Read the standard
Start by understanding what partnering means, and then read about examples of how this is achieved. I recommend looking at some major leaders in patient centred care: Planetree and the King’s Fund. Then, look at some Australian and state resources, such as the Australian Institute Patient & Family Centred Care. I would recommend reading what similar organisations around you are doing, and how they are implementing their partnering with consumers program. These resources will give you an idea of how to scope this for your organisation. It does not matter how small you are, there are things that can be done to meet the requirements. Looking at the ’s website now, there are many toolkits available to suit various clinical settings.
3. Know your demographic
Define your target population and design a partnering strategy around them. For example, Chermside Day Hospital (CDH) have chosen to recruit and contact their consumer group via email and the web. The majority of their maxillofacial consumer group are young adults dependant on internet engagement. CDH also present some scenarios to their Consumer Advisory Group (CAG), based on their incident reporting system. Feedback from the CAG provides insight on how consumers would resolve a particular issue.
4. Educate, educate, educate
Education is essential. Educate and arm yourself with references and the standard. Present to the owner or board members. Engaging the highest level of governance is important to achieve the intent of this standard. I often get comments like ‘they just want me to take care of it’ or ‘they don’t want to be involved’. They need to be. Also, present it to your staff and teach them about partnering. You may choose to invite a consumer to your staff meetings so they can speak about their experience and provide advice to your staff members. At small one theatre facilities this is easy to do because the staff meetings are very intimate. You can also educate your consumers here and discuss topics like Open Disclosure.
5. Recruit some interested people
People love to share their experiences. Chat to a few carers, and ask their thoughts about recent changes in your facility. Set up an email address so patients can be encouraged to communicate their input at any time. Put the email address on your discharge advises and website. Give your consumers the opportunity to contact you, other than when they are upset. Make sure you create a consumer group, complete with terms of reference. 6. Look at your documentation What do your consumers look at? Are your forms easy to fill in? Consider a patient brochure or booklet for them to have before their procedure. This will help you to think through the process for your consumer. It is important to identify what they need to know. Provide information in this brochure, for example ‘When not to come for your procedure’ or information about the national standards. Ask your consumer group to review your documentation. If your facility is very small, consider contacting an association to help you. For example, one of my clients has a predominately Chinese consumer base, so they presented their documentation to their local Chinese community support centre for advice. Another client contacted a hotel that specialises in care for the first night post procedure, and asked them to review their brochure on discharge care. Think outside the box!
Share hospital information with your consumers. Place a noticeboard in your waiting room or provide a flyer indicating what changes have occurred at the facility and seek feedback. Communicate your hand hygiene rates, the average wait time for patient procedures, and anything else you measure. Ask for suggestions from your consumer group. You may choose to write and display a ‘Partnering with Consumers’ policy outlining what you intend to do to partner with your consumers.
8. Follow-up and post op phone calls
This is a great way to harness feedback from your patients and discuss the hospital’s performance. To do this, come up with a couple of things you’d like to measure. At the end of your post-op phone calls ask the patients some consumer related questions, such as ‘We’ve recently introduced our new booklet, what did you think of it?’ or tell the consumer what the organisation has achieved in the last three months, and ask them if they like this change and request some feedback.
9. Are you doing anything to change the facility?
Some facilities change their layout or services from time to time. Display your plans, or invite your consumer group to discuss them with senior staff members.
10. Document, document, document and discuss
Document your discussions and collect your reviews, regardless of how few they may be. Discuss all of your findings, feedback and suggestions at your meetings, and ensure ‘Consumer Engagement’ appears as a standing agenda item.
The key is to start somewhere. When you start involving consumers in your facility, the inward flow of valuable information is inevitable. It becomes easier to integrate consumers once you have started. It won’t be long until you will be fostering partnering relationships without realising it.
By Kelly Brandt, Tick It Business Solutions