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Insights from Hospice UK Quality Improvement workshop

Author: Suzanne Stevenson
14 November 2017

Earlier this year representatives from 40 hospices gathered at Hospice UK to discuss a key question: What is quality improvement, and what difference can it make for the hospice sector? Like all the best questions, it proved to be challenging and complex, but event participants engaged with passion and offered inspiring insights. Claire Henry, Director of Improvement and Transformation at Hospice UK shares what was discussed.

The outcome of the day informed our work to develop a quality improvement programme which would meet the needs and interest of colleagues from the wider palliative and end of life care community.

Quality improvement refers to the implementation of a systematic, formal approach that improves the quality of care in any healthcare setting. As the approach is systematic, the resulting improvement is clearly measurable, and can be accurately refined to bring about the most effective change possible. 

In the new five-year strategy published earlier this year, Hospice UK committed to extending the reach, tackle inequalities and work with communities to improve palliative and end of life care by  empowering a strong, dynamic and responsive hospice and palliative care sector in which services are continually developing and evolving. A strong quality improvement approach will contribute to bringing about this goal as well as supporting the other key objectives.

With this in mind, the quality improvement workshop key objectives were :

  • To build a shared understanding of the vision and importance of Quality Improvement in the hospice sector;
  • To identify opportunities to build on existing good practice within and outside of the hospice sector, strengthen our approach, widen engagement, and involve key stakeholders;
  • To begin to define what a Hospice UK Quality Improvement offer will look like;
  • To create a ‘next steps’ plan and which is practical and fits within a realistic time frame for all concerned to ensure this work is successfully taken forward.

It was hugely important to Hospice UK's clinical team that they learn from the considerable expertise and working experience present in the room, which is why the day was rooted in a personal story from a mother who shared the challenges in caring for her son, and what would have made it a better experience for all concerned. This story highlighted why Quality Improvement is so relevant for all involved in palliative and end of life care.

Two hospice leaders also shared how they used a Qi approach in their hospices in very practical ways. Initiatives included a review of thank you cards and complaints and a QI training exercise that reduced medicine errors.

With these fantastic examples in mind, event participants were asked to imagine what clinical staff, trustees, commissioners, patients & carers, and CEOs would want from a Quality Improvement support offer and, based on these suggestions, identify the top three actions that would take the work forward.

All the work that was produced in these highly productive sessions is being incorporated into the Quality Improvement support offer that Hospice UK is currently developing for member hospices, subscribers  and colleagues from the wider palliative care community.

To this end, a Quality Improvement Advisory Group has been formed, which will help to ensure that the voices of people with experiences,  hospices, hospitals  and other palliative care organisations are incorporated into future work on an ongoing basis.

It was clear on the day that there was a strong desire to network and share knowledge. This is why a new forum dedicated wholly to Quality Improvement will be launched on Hospice IQ. 

In addition to this, over the coming months Hospice UK's clinical team will develop an accessible Quality Improvement offer which will include e-learning resources and a series of webinars. We will also be developing a community of practice for hospice and palliative care professionals who will be able to use an e-forum to provide feedback, ask questions, and share their expertise.


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