The Atlas of Shared Learning

Case study

Developing a safeguarding application to provide a direct point of access for frontline healthcare staff to the local authority

Leading Change

The Patient Experience and Quality Manager for NHS England – Midlands and East identified unwarranted variation in the provision of consistent guidance for managing safeguarding concerns, for frontline healthcare staff. The Patient Experience and Quality Manager, and a nurse-led reference group, successfully rolled out an application (app), initially across the East region but then nationally adopted, providing safeguarding support for all staff in the right place, at the right time.

Where to look

The protection of those at risk is a vital part of nursing, midwifery and care staff roles and responsibilities and therefore safeguarding underpins the quality and safety of all health and social care services.

The nursing team identified that staff from a range of organisations were using printed resources to access safeguarding advice, updates and guidance. Due to the changing nature of safeguarding legislation and practice, the printed resources required frequently updating, creating cost implications as well as confusion as to which printed resource was the most current.

The Patient Experience and Quality Manager and subsequently the nursing led reference group recognised that the risk of not having current printed material could be mitigated and resources saved by utilising an electronic application.

The group designed a new app to:

  • Enable free, quick and easy access to any local authority safeguarding process
  • Enable staff to have immediate access to vital safeguarding information and guidance that was up to date, such as a direct link to any Local Authority safeguarding information
  • Minimise delays in accessing information and support and therefore mitigating risks and providing prompt safeguarding support

What to change

The success of the programme was steered by the Patient Experience and Quality Manager working in collaboration with specialist nursing leads from across the adult and child disciplines of safeguarding. This expert clinical reference group provided the driving force for the content and focus of the app as well as significantly supporting the marketing strategy and subsequent national roll-out of the app.

The group developed the app to cover the following three areas: Safeguarding Adults, support on Mental Capacity issues, Safeguarding Children and a staff focused page supporting personal welfare and wellbeing. The end product, a resource that is free for healthcare staff can be easily updated centrally, thereby ensuring that everyone has access to current and key information at the point of access reducing unwarranted variation.

How to change

The app was originally developed for the East region, where the initial pilot of the app was undertaken. The pilot participants, predominantly consisting of the expert group and close working colleagues, reviewed the function of the app and any technical issues regarding functionality. The pilot was very successful, with few significant alterations. The app was then advertised across the Eastern region, where uptake and utilisation increased substantially.

The Patient Experience and Quality Manager identified an opportunity to expand the use of the app and approached the national safeguarding team for NHS England. The app was recognised as a vital safeguarding resource and plans were made to adapt the app ready for national roll-out. The national adaptation was undertaken by creating a wider national nurse, midwifery, care staff and allied health professional safeguarding expert reference group from across England. This wider group enabled access to Local Authority safeguarding information from across England. The app was then advertised via the national safeguarding team and the lead nurses from across the country.

Adding value

  • Better outcomes – Consistent evidenced based messages on the legislative requirements and principles of safeguarding practice and support on a range of safeguarding topics that may not be a within the users expertise are now readily available. Functionality that empowers the user with the right information, at the right time enables staff to support a patient or carer effectively with a range of safeguarding concerns. Direct access to the relevant local authority safeguarding procedure and enabling timely referrals to the local authority. Due to the accurate and timely functionality, the safeguarding application has been downloaded more than 67,000 times and is utilised more than 200 times a day (system analysis figures as of May 2018).
  • Better experience – Clear, easy-read guidance, such as the correct application of key legislative principles (e.g. Mental Capacity Act, 2005), to those who may not use the principles regularly empowers the user to support a patient or a carer. This improves the patient experience as well as the quality and safety of practice across healthcare within a range of different provider and commissioner organisations. The workforce response has been overwhelmingly favourable:
    • “I have rolled out to all our staff and am getting positive feedback”
    • “It’s an excellent resource”
    • “What a great initiative this is”
  • Better use of resources – The safeguarding app is easy to use and navigate which is vital for busy healthcare staff. As a result, it has eradicated previous re-printing costs and limited any confusion regarding legislative requirements. The app is interactive and enables the user to browse the content as either a learning tool, or a quick reference guide; this functionality has been its biggest success.

Challenges and lessons learnt

A particular strength of this resource is the partnership working of nursing leaders and allied health professionals from across providers and commissioning groups.

The download statistics are positive but don’t give a full picture of the mix between regular and one-off use, or for how long the app has been kept open. However, it is encouraging that a significant number of people are using it and this figure continues to increase monthly.

Find out more

For more information contact:

Sarah Robinson

Patient Experience and Quality Manager