Celebrating a year of Improvement Cymru Academy and looking ahead by Dominique Bird, Head of Capacity & Capability

A year ago this week we were celebrating the launch of Improvement Cymru and the Improvement Cymru Academy.

We spent 2 days with over 650 of you sharing good practice, networking improvements and learning approaches to improvements at the micro and system level with partners from Northern Ireland and Scotland exploring a quality management system approach.

The conference also launched the partnership between Improvement Cymru and the Health Foundation to establish the innovative Q Lab Cymru – the first lab of its kind outside London.

What a year we have all experienced since then.  Teams have become faces in boxes on screens, framed by kitchens, sofas or toy rooms – hastily shaped into ad hoc offices.  The service as a whole has learnt new skills, built new systems and met the needs of an unprecedented pandemic.

And improvement has shown its power at pace, both locally and nationally. 

Evidence from Improvement Cymru and Health Foundation learning with the system from COVID identified key enabling themes of cross-boundary collaboration;  shared learning and a focus on experimentation all supported by an effective mix of central and dispersed leadership. We spoke at the Improvement Cymru Academy launch about the need to create the conditions for improvement to flourish, support connections and nuture improvement capability – how we build the trust with leadership at all levels, how we build the skills and how we connect these elements together.  These aspects are more important now than ever to hold onto the amazing improvements and changes we have seen within the system, and to ensure we let go of those aspects that hindered improvement leadership at all levels in the past.

The Academy has transferred its improvement training offer to suit the virtual environment, working closely with colleagues in Health Education & Improvement Wales to launch Improvement in Practice online.  We have also continued with partners in NHS Education for Scotland to pilot our Improvement Advisor level (Scottish Improvement Leader Programme) virtually.  We have just secured dates for our next cohort, starting late Summer 2021 (contact emma.rowe@wales.nhs.uk to register your interest).

We will also be welcoming the new Q Lab Cymru team over the coming months.  Q Lab Cymru will be providing improvers with space and skills to surface insights about improvement’s role in the future to support recovery and maintain the positives shaped by how teams have worked over the last 8 months – connected, enabled, creative and collaborative.

Whilst we still face the uncertainty of a winter with Covid, improvement will certainly play its part, and Improvement Cymru will certainly be there to support you in the future. #TogetherWeCan