High Peak nursing sister Sally Madden has worked in the clinical area for many years, specialising in cardiology on the coronary care unit at the University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM), and being published in a number of medical journals on the pioneering techniques of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implants and Mitral valve repair using a clip. In recent years, however, she has moved into the field of NHS projects. The Productive Ward initiative focused on improving quality and efficiencies in the clinical area and is still delivering results, but she has been thrilled to be part of a joint project dealing with Transforming Patient Experience. South Tees Hospitals, UHSM and King’s College Hospital combined to obtain funding for their Real Time Patient Video Stories initiative, as a part of the £1m Department Of Health funded NHS Patient Feedback Challenge, and their project has been gaining praise and recognition in high places.
The essence of the project is to capture patient experiences in their own words, and to use these stories to drive service improvement within NHS organisations. Patient experience is at the heart of UHSM, and they will produce a number of films across a variety of children’s and adult NHS services. The aim is to improve the patient experience, staff morale, service provision and training.
Sally elaborated on how the project came about. “All three of the trusts involved had previous experience of gathering patient feedback in different ways, and with this collaboration we recognised that we could produce a very powerful tool with a much wider benefit.” Alicia Lucas, Matron for patient experience at UHSM, explained the basis of the project. “It can be hard for people to put stories to paper, to make it really powerful. It takes a certain type of person to be able to do that. But talking it through is a humanist approach. People like a story, and this makes it easier to get staff engaged in patient experiences.”
Through the medium of film they are capturing patient emotions, enabling them to tell their stories in their own words. Ultimately, the patient video stories will become a part of routine reflective care practice. They use digital video technology to capture and store the patient stories, and this brought about its own problems. “None of us knew much about editing and safely storing videos at the start of the project, but now I can convert movies into the correct video format, and split and join clips to make a coherent film that becomes a compelling tool to drive service improvements,” explained Sally.
The films capture good and bad aspects of the patient experience, identifying priority areas for improvement. Action plans can then be implemented and monitored at senior management level within each trust. The process of filming is now being rolled out across the trusts, with training in the art of film making taking just a couple of hours, a testament to the slick process that the project team has put in place.
Just a few weeks after launch, there is already a clear message that can be seen. “A strong theme is emerging across all of the films about the importance of communication; how the interpretation of one group of staff can be different to that of a patient, and the impact that this can have on all patients,” said Sally. It is also being well received within the patient community, with patients keen to share their stories, and enthusiastic about their experiences being used to inform service and change.
So it seems that this NHS initiative is already proving to be successful, with a project related quote from Sally mentioned in a letter to the Prime Minister. “We were all very excited when Alicia showed us the letter,” explained Sally. “And then came the news that we have been nominated for a ‘Big Idea’ award which is very prestigious within NHS projects at UHSM,” she continued. Look out for further coverage of the project in newspapers and magazines in the coming weeks, and we will let you know how the team get on at the awards ceremony in May.