How – and why? – did you first get involved in improvement; and what has been your journey since then?
I had always been interested in how services could be improved. As a newly qualified therapeutic radiographer I undertook patient surveys to explore their experience of the service and care provided. I simply always looked to see how we do things better. This took me into a practice development department working across the local health system, working with great professionals and teams to redesign roles, services and pathways to improve care. I always combined the voices of those receiving care and staff providing it. This role taught me the importance of collaboration; I never felt like a fixer, always an enabler. I stumbled upon the science of improvement whilst working as the Quality and Safety Lead for Radiology in Cornwall.
I learnt the theory and developed my practice, working with a range of colleagues across the system to develop a service we were all hugely proud of.
I was hooked – all the activities I was doing was a thing some call a science! I learnt the theory and developed my practice, working with a range of colleagues across the system to develop a service we were all hugely proud of. This included all aspects of safety culture: for example, every member of staff received human factors training and we truly started to take a preventative view towards defects. We explored new ways of working, shaping new roles which allowed professional growth and a better patient experience. Strangely, we didn’t talk about ‘quality improvement’ but we did it and every member of the multi-disciplinary workforce was involved in one way or another because it became part of their everyday work. Since then I have worked as an inspector and currently as a practice manager in improvement. The journey isn’t always smooth; it’s been tough, rewarding, frustrating and empowering. I continue to evolve and develop skills in improvement but I have also developed expertise in patient safety and safety culture, how do we create the conditions to be at our best?
What most inspires you professionally?
People. Whether it has been patients and family I cared for or colleagues I have worked with. When I see people achieve more than they thought possible I always feel humbled and privileged to be part of these moments of magic. I’m really proud to be an Allied Health Profession (AHP); for a number of years I’ve been working to unlock the potential of these profession groups, most recently in developing leaders of the future or furthering clinical careers. In 2017, I co-created an AHP Leadership programme with fellow Q member Carrie Biddle, I remain hugely proud of the programme.
Never underestimate the value of a constructive coffee, I gain so much from Q community randomised coffee calls and bouncing ideas with others
Over the last 3 years, 50 change agents with knowledge of the Model for Improvement are making great strides in improving care across Cornwall. It’s not always about the classroom; I’ve been sharing the @15s30m social movement with colleagues, if you want to reduce day to day frustration then welcome to the tribe, play it forward and bring joy. Never underestimate the value of a constructive coffee, I gain so much from Q community randomised coffee calls and bouncing ideas with others – thank you to all those I’ve spoken with. It is all made possible by people being prepared to grab the passport and explore their world a little more by asking questions, cutting a new path or recognising that some change is a good thing. Those brilliant moments when things fall into place, seeing the determination and commitment to test improvements feeds my energy levels.
Can you share a hard-won lesson you’ve learnt?
I think it’s finding your tribe. I have experienced different cultures and organisations, each with their own nuances but finding fellow improvers gives great support, learning opportunity and resilience. Improvement is a team sport and there is always a great willingness to be involved. Potential tribe members are everywhere, finding them can be more of a challenge but they are there (and plentiful in Q!).
What change could we make that would do most to embed continuous improvement in health and care?
I would asking everyone to believe that they have the power to make improvements to their work and those that benefit from it. We often only see obstacles or change as something that is done to us BUT there is another choice. The small things are the big things and there is such power in the collective.
We often only see obstacles or change as something that is done to us BUT there is another choice
If I could have two wishes, I’d want to develop an increased understanding how to create data sound enough to make valid decisions from, share a story or understand if a change was an improvement. We see information used a lot in health and social care to monitor performance and compliance, learning how it can be presented and used for improvements can be a real game changer.
Why did you join Q?
Found my tribe! Q offered an opportunity to explore improvement further in a safe environment with like-minded people. I continue to be keen to learn from others, and where I can support their journey. Q offers a great deal in terms of networking, developing skills, and pinch with pride. I am found lurking in many a Special Interest Group but I’ve now taken a leap! I’ve been working with fellow AHP colleagues in Q to establish an AHPs in QI Special Interest Group for the Q community. The first Q tweet about the AHPs in QI SIG generated a great level of interest: not that far off 1,000 engagements. There’s clearly a big appetite amongst AHPs working together on QI. It was a radiography connection, Julie Mills, who originally introduced me to Q Community and I’m so pleased that she did.
I’ll shortly be moving to a role focussed on patient safety and improvement in Cornwall. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with a range of clinicians and people who use services, new improvement adventures await!