The quality improvement training programme for people working at Southern Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) has helped to deliver a wide range of improvements to patient care and experience. We spoke to Linda Kelly, Assistant Director for Safe and Effective Care, about how the programme has made improving care part of everyday life for all staff in the organisation.

The Safety, Quality, Experience (SQE) training programme was launched in 2011, as a way to support and enable health and social care professionals to get directly involved in improving care. The programme supports people to learn about quality improvement and then work in teams to design and deliver their own improvements to care.

‘When we started the programme, it was mostly individual members of staff who got involved,’ says Linda. ‘Now, we have a number of teams joining the programme – multidisciplinary teams who work together in an operational area, who can support each other during the course and really embed their learning within their department.’

Support from the top

Senior leaders at the organisation have supported the training programme from the very beginning. The SQE approach forms a part of the organisation’s strategic plan and is integrated into management processes including care audits and performance reviews.

‘Whenever we’ve come across challenges or needed advice, we’ve always had a direct path to the executive management team,’ says Linda. ‘SQE has become part of the fabric of our organisation – when we talk about improvement projects, we all understand each other, because we’re all working towards the same overall goals.’

Keeping up with demand

One challenge that the organisation faces is keeping pace with demand for places on the programme. In 2015, there were 180 applications but only 120 places.

‘To make more places available, we’d need more mentors who can commit the time needed to coach and support participants. As a way to meet the extra demand, we’re piloting an online training course which provides an introduction to quality improvement. It’s a useful stepping stone and will put people in a good position to undertake the full programme in the future.’

Celebrating success

The trust also celebrates the work of SQE participants. ‘It’s important to visibly celebrate the work of the teams that have worked hard to deliver improvements,’ Linda highlights. ‘Teams get to present their work to senior executives at the end of the programme, with some projects going on to be presented at an event attended by the health minister and other influential figures. And we look for ways to share improvement successes at regional, national and international events, awards and conferences.’

Linda adds that the organisation keeps a keen eye on quality improvement work going on elsewhere. ‘Learning from others is an important part of sustaining improvement. One of the ways we do this is by sending SQE participants to relevant conferences, including the International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare. It brings valuable learning into the organisation and it’s a good way for us to show our appreciation to staff who have made a great commitment to the SQE approach.’

For more information, contact Linda Kelly, Assistant Director for Safe and Effective Care.

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