Improving patient and service user experience during the restoration phase of the Covid-19 pandemic – a shared decision-making IPC council

Case study: Victoria Parker, Clinical Education Facilitator, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

Background to learning

Patient feedback is key in identifying opportunities to create the best possible experiences for patients and carers, who are often accessing our services during difficult and stressful times for themselves and their families. During the pandemic these concerns could be amplified, and nursing leadership has remained central to ensuring quality of care is maintained, paying close attention to service user experience.

Learning and advice to be shared

At University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, the Director of Nursing/Deputy CNO identified an opportunity to optimise patient experience as part of the trust’s restoration activity by establishing a multidisciplinary Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Council.

The IPC Council has concentrated on a number of key domains including a ‘patient experience’ focus, and examples include;

  • Improved patient information letters for people who have planned visits/admissions with advice on how to help stay safe while accessing the hospitals’ services.
  • Standardisation of social distancing signage across all hospital sites, providing clear messaging on IPC guidance including low, medium and high-risk clinical zones and the categorisation of patients.
  • Specific practical information, for example online payment arrangements for parking charges and the availability of on-site refreshments.
  • Social media campaigns to target members of the public who may need to attend the hospital in an emergency or urgent care capacity.

Nursing and patient insight teams have worked jointly to survey patient experience in relation to communications, IPC practices and feeling reassured in the hospital during the pandemic. This timely feedback offers a ‘confidence in care’ feedback opportunity, ensuring continuous learning as we move through the pandemic response. The survey will repeat every three months to capture potential changes in patient experience and public perception.

The National CNO for England Shared Professional Decision-Making Council members echoed the importance of patient feedback when discussing how to re-build public confidence as services restore. They acknowledged the need to find innovative ways to collect feedback during the pandemic and noted the importance of connecting this to trust communication activity to reassure patients and make sure they feel confident about any new ways of working.

It was agreed across the council membership that clear, consistent messaging was vital. Targeting information towards unplanned admissions was challenging but, by working with partners across the system and through the relevant social media channels, there were opportunities to support better patient experience and ensure changes to local services were widely understood.

Would it be beneficial to retain these changes?

Patient feedback is always key to ensuring services meet the needs of our communities – and never more so than during times of significant change. During the pandemic University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire have committed to maintaining regular patient feedback capture to inform ongoing quality improvement. Support from voluntary services to conduct the survey was crucial in order to collect data from multiple different clinical areas in a timely manner.

Real-time feedback on how the organisation is supporting its patients and how the public feel when visiting their hospitals has guided the work of their multidisciplinary IPC Council and informed local implementation of relevant national guidance. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire has found value in forming a shared decision-making council led by professionals with current clinical experience and insight, who recognise the real-time challenges staff, and the organisation, faces.

The Trust intends to celebrate the partnerships that has emerged from this collective leadership approach and the positive changes that have impacted on patient care and experience during international ‘IPC week’ in October.

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