Vantage point: Looking at experiences of care from both sides

How an NHS provider has introduced a new way to give voice to its diverse population of service users

How an NHS provider has introduced a new way to give voice to its diverse population of service users

Picture: iStock

Five months ago, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust established a patient and staff experience committee as a part of its trust board.

It is early days, but it seems logical when wanting to improve services to discuss patient experiences of receiving care in the context of the staff experiences of providing it. The two are inextricably linked.

Clear message of value

The initiative sends a clear message that the trust board values both, and the structures and processes are in line with achieving one of its strategic objectives, that of ‘excellent experiences for patients and staff’.

This is a new committee structure and revised membership. The challenge is to give it time to embed and see opportunities for collaboration.

Another challenge is getting the balance right in the discussions. It is important that each meeting covers staffing as well as patient issues in a way that accommodates the competing priorities of the NHS.

The next year will be particularly demanding as we try to improve the experiences of patients and staff while identifying priority areas based on feedback we receive.

The trust serves a diverse local population, in which more than 200 languages are spoken, and 72% of hospital staff self-report being from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, so there is a great incentive for staff at all levels to collaborate to provide care that is responsive to our patient and staff needs.

Project development

There have been two projects developed as a result of the new way the committee has facilitated inter-generational and cross-cultural working. The first involves children from the local primary school visiting our care-of-older-people wards; holding tea parties, making cards and singing. The second involves local sixth-form students who have created a ‘memory booklet’ using local images.

Over time, we anticipate seeing evidence that how we treat our staff and how they feel about working here affect our patients and their experiences. Using data from the patient and staff friends-and-family test, we will triangulate and identify further priorities for quality improvement.

About the author

Nichole McIntosh is assistant director of nursing at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, London, and a member of the Nursing Management editorial advisory board

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