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Many improvers across the UK and Ireland are at the forefront of responding to COVID-19. We’ve heard from some of you that it can be hard to lift your head up and see what’s going on outside your busy world. And yet learning together – flexibly and quickly – and making best use of what’s already known has never been more important.

There’s a lot of information and learning that is being shared – so let us try and give you an easy-to-digest summary.

Our weeknotes will be based on what we’re hearing from improvers across the UK and Ireland, members and partners as well as colleagues at the Health Foundation.

We’ll try and do these weekly and keep them relatively short. Let us know if you find them helpful, or have suggestions for improvements.


What’s going on in improvement?

Welcome to Q’s first weeknote. Here you’ll find information on what has stood out for us, focused on the three themes (rapid learning and improvement, virtual consultations and staff wellbeing) that we’re working on.

Whilst there is a discipline around doing a weeknote, there is also flexibility. They are often a form of blogging but I have also seen more visual ways of displaying them online. They act as a mechanism for transparency, sharing reflections, and engaging with others. You might want to ask yourself ‘how was my week?’ too, and make some notes to reflect.

This week I’ve been thinking about the platforms that we use for sharing and sense-making online; mapping out the opportunities for improvement and learning (fast!). It is about more than the content; it is the facilitation, tools and methods and, of course, good process that enable learning and sharing in a purposeful way. The amount of information out there right now is somewhat overwhelming, but we’ll keep sharing what we hear and learn to try to help others make sense of it all.

Rapid learning and improvement

This week we’ve noted how organisations are rapidly trying to understand what technology and digital tools are available and how they can be used well and safely. Multiple AHSNs that we’ve spoken to have mentioned concerns about untested digital tools being rolled out as solutions and the need for capturing and sharing knowledge on which tools are effective. Health and Social care agency in Northern Ireland have also started to compile guides and resources for different digital tools.

Digital or not, sharing learning right now is vital. Some interesting examples that we’ve seen in the last week include:

  • iHub Healthcare Improvement Scotland are starting to compile case studies and learning on how teams can support person-centred care in COVID-19 situations.
  • EvergreenHealth (US hospital) are compiling their lessons learned from COVID-19: 11 pages, continuously updated with recommendations for others based on their experiences.
  • Medical staff in Ireland are sharing learning on #IrishMed and there was a tweetchat on Wednesday evening.

Virtual consultations

Despite the speed and scale of implementing virtual consultations, we’ve heard from some Q members about how well it’s going. We’ve also seen lots of tweets from people experimenting with video for the first time and surprised at how well it worked.

Over 20 people implementing virtual consultations submitted learning logs in response to Jo Scott’s blog the other week. The team has done some rapid synthesis to draw out the main themes and challenges: do take a look. We’ll be updating our learning fortnightly.

As ‘standard’ video consultations roll out fast, we’re also starting to get examples and questions about how to implement in different service settings – we’ll share what we can over the coming weeks.

Commitment to accelerating the scaling up of virtual consultations in England was also announced this week: Hugh McCaughey (NHSI/E) shared more information on this in the RCP blog, outlining funding opportunities and additional resources.

Staff wellbeing

We know that looking after health and care staff during this pandemic, and afterwards, is so important and there are some great organisations that are well placed to deliver excellent support. But we also know that improvers will have a role to play in this too. Or as Joy Furnival put it: ‘Cheerleading is one of our best assets’.

With that in mind, it was great to read Callum McGregor’s blog this week on how his acute medical unit are applying the IHI’s Joy in Work framework to support team working and staff wellbeing.

Lots of content and learning on topic on Twitter too: NHSE/I are running regular wellbeing webinars and this overview of all the support offers shared by Helen Bevan felt particularly helpful.

Also, take a look at these lovely new wellbeing hubs for staff at St George’s hospital in Tooting.

And finally…

In case you missed it IHI are running a series of free open webinars on COVID-19 and have a helpful resource page too.

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