By Hazel Powell, Deputy Executive Director of Nursing, Swansea Bay University Health Board
While for many the new year is a good opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and plan for the year ahead, the intense focus for the NHS at this time of year is very much on the significant operational challenges posed by winter.
However, at the end of November our Swansea Bay UHB teams involved in the Safe Care Collaborative were able to come together and share and reflect on the great work they’ve been doing to improve quality and safety.
As the teams talked about their improvement projects, the positive outcomes and experiences they are achieving for both staff and patients were clear to see. We are all so busy in our day-to-day roles that it can be challenging to see positive progress we’re making and successes we’ve achieved over time, so that opportunity to take stock created a real buzz and sense of pride in the room about what we’re doing.
What also really struck me on that day was how being part of the Safe Care Collaborative has helped to accelerate our approach to pathway-wide work. We’re becoming more inter-connected in our approach, more quickly. That has seen, for instance, the great work our teams are doing around falls prevention expand beyond our acute sites into primary care, and with colleagues in care homes.
As Deputy Executive Director of Nursing at Swansea Bay, my role in the Safe Care Collaborative has been to represent Swansea Bay UHB at a leadership level, which has included contributing to the collaborative’s leadership workstream. I have been well placed in my role to both support our teams in the delivery of their improvement projects and ensure that the impact of what we’re doing as part of the collaborative remains visible to the executive team, who are absolutely behind and supportive of this work.
The Safe Care Collaborative has been very timely for us, as it aligns with the priorities we’ve invested in as part of our Quality Strategy at Swansea Bay UHB. We’ve been able to weave the collaborative into the improvement work we’re doing across priority areas as part of that strategy, which has made a significant difference in enhancing what we’re doing.
As we look forward it’s important that we consider how to further mainstream this work into organisational and national priorities, such as the Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care and the Duty of Quality, so that it becomes everybody’s business and is viewed as integral to what the whole organisation is setting out to achieve.
Healthcare is a challenging environment to deliver improvement, and there have of course been complex challenges with the work we’re doing as part of the collaborative – not least in relation to data and disparate systems that exist across services and organisations. I must commend our teams for the tenacity they have shown in working against those enduring challenges to achieve the impact we saw at that recent learning session.
We want to be a high-quality organisation and quality improvement needs to be a part of that. Part of the legacy of the Safe Care Collaborative at Swansea Bay UHB needs to be how we continue to embed quality improvement and build capacity and capability to keep moving forward on this journey, going from strength to strength.
That’s a journey that I’m excited to see us take in the weeks and months ahead.