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Ashgate Hospice > How engaging with patients and families is key to care improvements at Ashgate Hospice – by Claire Blakey

Ashgate’s Head of Quality Improvement, Claire Blakey, writes about the importance of listening to patients and their families to drive improvements at the charity.  

At Ashgate, we strive to continuously improve for our patients and their loved ones because we want them to experience the highest standards of specialist palliative and end of life care and support. Quality Improvement (QI) is embedded into our practices to ensure that all services are safe, timely, efficient, equitable and patient-centred.  

Quality improvement is a collaborative approach to identify and address problems in order to improve the quality of care, a process or a system. It is about looking at what we do and seeing if we can do things differently to improve safety, experience, and effectiveness. 

We know that for QI to be effective, you need to understand very clearly what you are planning to change and why. Therefore, it is important to work together, often across different teams, to develop the best solutions, by giving everyone a voice and an opportunity to be involved.   

So why does it matter for patients and families? In clinical work, there are many reasons why QI is important for patients and their families:  

  • it helps to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and treatment  
  • it helps to improve patient safety and reduce the risk of errors and adverse events 
  • it helps to improve the efficiency of care delivery and make the best use of resources  
  • when QI is part of everyday work it has been shown to deliver better patient outcomes, staff experience, and improve morale.  

At Ashgate, we introduced the Model for Improvement (MFI), a three steps process that uses a simple methodology. It recognises that improvement works best when people at the point of delivery, those directly engaged in the work, are empowered to test changes and use feedback from staff and patients to make improvements. MFI is made up of the ‘Plan, Do, Study, Act’ cycle which allows for continuous improvement and learning that is fundamental to quality. 

Since introducing QI at Ashgate, we have already seen fantastic changes made by our staff and volunteers who ensure patients, and their families remain at the heart of our QI practices. By listening to their experiences, we can learn and improve instead of assuming that we understand what is needed. 

Just some of the completed and ongoing improvement work includes; personalised care plans, audit process, single point of referrals, stock ordering process, patient safety, data collection, and patient feedback.   

To discuss quality improvement at Ashgate, please get in touch with Claire Blakey at [email protected]