The Health Foundation is an independent charity working to continuously improve the quality of heatlhcare in the UK

Patient and Family-centred Care

In brief

Service improvement often focuses either on clinical-systematic care processes or on patients' experiences. Patient and family-centred care offers a unique opportunity to use tried and tested techniques to improve both processes of care and staff-patient interactions.

The Patient and Family-centred Care programme was a partnership with The King’s Fund (building on the Hospital Pathways programme). It broke new ground in improving the experience of hospital care for patients and their families, and the working lives of staff.

The goal was to develop a small number of exemplary NHS provider organisations and a team of professional staff and managers who can demonstrate their achievements to others, and bring sustainable improvement in patients' experience.

The aim was to allow patients to:

  • feel confident that the care that they receive will be consistently high quality
  • participate in their own care and feel confident working in collaboration with healthcare professionals
  • feel that their care has been designed in a way that acknowledges its place within their broader lives.

The programme provided leadership development and on-site support for the selected provider organisations, and included a series of learning events and rapid improvement days, supported by expert coaching and mentoring.

The Patient and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) toolkit

Building on the work of the programme, the Patient and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) toolkit is a simple, step-by-step method for understanding what a care experience is like, what needs to change, and which small improvements can make a big difference to patients, families and staff alike. More about this toolkit is available on the King's Fund website.

This sounds like a brilliant project. I am wondering, however, what kind of evidence you will gather to demonstrate that families and patients actually do feel more confident, etc.?
The stroke team at Musgrove Park Hospital Taunton did some great work supported by the PFCC project team last year - you can see their poster on the Kings Fund website, type 'stroke' into the search field. They valued the help given by people with proven expertise in effecting change, and there is no doubt that the patient experience has improved - they've measured it, both by indirect measures like the percentage of their stay stroke patients spend on the stroke unit - ie in the right place, which we know improves care - but also by asking patients and carers directly about their experience. So Pip you absolutely right to ask about measurement, that is crucial.

It was a big commitment, but as a junior sister told me today, 'the changes we made were simple - easy really - but before, we would have just sat and talked about them and six months later nothing would have changed. Point of Care gave us permission to make changes'

The stroke team would recommend this project wholeheartedly to enthusiastic teams who want to improve care.
Responses to a few of these comments

We are seeking applications from NHS providers - where the care experiences of interest have an acute element to them. The programme has been tested and piloted in acute settings - however, some of the pathways teams worked on did have elements that were in the community.

Earlier comments

How do we know that patients feel more confident etc - we ask them. Part of what the teams do is make sure they have systems in place to get rapid feedback from patients.

Is the programme appropriate for a clinical network that involved a number of hospitals? It would be complex, but there is no reason in principle why not.
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