Responding to COVID-19 and making improvements by John Boulton, Director, Improvement Cymru

It’s hard to believe that this time last year we hadn’t heard the word COVID-19. And most of us hadn’t heard of Zoom or Teams. The Improvement Cymru team were working hard on our new brand launch and getting excited about the year to come. Then the pandemic hit.

As a consequence Improvement Cymru swiftly moved out of its office at short notice to free up space for the contact centre where staff would be answering thousands of calls from members of the public. And since that time we have been part of the Public Heatlh Wales response. The team have been fantastic in supporting and taking on new roles, from being part of the contact centre, to developing training, to supporting the set up of population sampling centres. It has been amazing to be part of this, I could not be more proud of working within such a great team.

Although it’s been a traumatic year for us in NHS Wales, our health and social care system is responding heroically with dynamism, commitment and innovation. In many areas we have seen a rapid revolution in the way services are delivered to respond to the challenge and I’m in awe of colleagues on the front line throughout.

We’ve also had to change the way we work and adapt to the circumstances. Since March the team has provided support in a range of areas to support the pandemic response and learnt new skills along the way. Including:

  • Testing in Wales – from development and roll out of the system, operating the drive thru centre, working with the army to establish new sites and continuing to develop and improve processes still today.
  • Care homes – providing support to staff and helping with challenges that they have faced.
  • Mental health and learning disabilities – publishing a new online course and helping to develop “easy read” COVID-19 resources.
  • Learning from Covid Toolkit  – designed especially to support staff in reflecting and building upon the learning they have made during these challenging times, to develop services out of this crisis.

This is just a snapshot of the ongoing work – we’re not done yet.

Although the future looks almost certain to have COVID-19 as part of it, we’re excited to take our learning from the last few months and use it in our improvement work. It’s important that we each take the time to reflect and learn, to consider what is working well, as well as what isn’t so well, so we ensure we sustain and embed improvements that will benefit the people of Wales for years to come. This is what Improvement Cymru will be working on in partnership with teams across Wales in the coming weeks and months, to help ensure that good comes from these times for generations to come.

If there’s something that you and your team are struggling with in particular during the current increased demand and winter pressures, please get in touch. We’re here to support you the best we can