Flow Coaching Academy The Flow Coaching Academy (FCA) programme aims to empower frontline staff to improve patient flow through the health care system through spreading their quality improvement methodology across the UK.

  • The Flow Coaching Academy (FCA) programme was designed and is delivered by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • The FCA curriculum is an action learning course teaching improvement science and coaching skills

The Sheffield team, or Central FCA, has developed a one-year action learning course to train clinicians and managers in team coaching skills and improvement science. The programme builds on learning about care pathway level improvement and training improvement coaches from two previous Health Foundation-funded programmes: Flow Cost Quality and the Sheffield Microsystems Coaching Academy.

The FCA curriculum and Big Rooms

The course teaches skills of quality improvement, engagement and social movement. The coaches put their skills into practice by leading Big Room meetings which bring together staff from each step of the patient journey and enables them to assess, diagnose and iteratively test changes to improve patient flow. Coaches actively engage in experiential learning through co-coaching a care pathway team. Coaching pairs are composed of a clinical coach, who works within the pathway, and a flow coach, external to the pathway. 

At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, a Big Room was set up in 2016 to focus on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The work of the Big Room team has led to update patient information leaflets which now include sections on anxiety and mental health and referrals to pulmonary rehabilitation from the Early Support Discharge Service has increased. Please see here for further information.

A Big Room set up to focus on all patients over the age of 75 with frailty admitted to the hospital has been running in Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust since 2016. As a result, the team now known as the Frailty Flying Squad were able to reduce the average length of stay for patients and improve relationships across teams working to support this patient group. See here for further information.

Spreading the FCA approach

In 2019, there will be seven local FCAs established across the UK training coaches in their local area. They are as follows: FCA Bath, FCA Northumbria, FCA Imperial, FCA Birmingham, FCA Northern Ireland, FCA Devon and FCA Yorkshire. A further two trusts will establish local FCAs in 2020 and these are FCA St George’s in London and FCA Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The Central FCA team will focus on developing the network of local FCAs and infrastructure required to support the spread and maintenance of the FCA programme and network. 

Contact details

For further information about the project, please email Bryony Price at Sheffield Teaching Hospital.

Further reading

Learning report

Improving patient flow

April 2013

This learning report describes the work undertaken by two NHS trusts as part of the Health...

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