My workplace was awarded the Best Place to Work for 2015 in the acute care category of Nursing Times’ and HSJ’s top employers list. I have been reflecting on how we achieved this and the role I played.
Having worked at Northumbria Healthcare for the past seven years, I’ve seen hundreds of positive changes take place and nurses at all levels get involved to improve patient care. As practice development matron, my role revolves entirely around safety and quality improvements and mentoring our nursing teams.
We are very lucky to have a leadership team that has empowered frontline staff to own quality improvements, giving teams the confidence to make changes happen when there is a clear and obvious benefit for patient care. It’s really about collective leadership, recognising that everyone has a part to play in improvement and empowering staff with whatever guidance and support they need.
That’s really where I come in – I mentor and coach nursing teams on the best way to make positive changes happen and staff call me every day, from nursing assistants to matrons, looking for advice on how to approach a project. I don’t do it for them, but I give them the help they need to achieve their quality objectives.
“We don’t want to waste time and money with unnecessary red tape, rigorous approval processes or assessments”
As a trust we are very forward thinking and our mantra for improvement is ‘just-do-it’ - we don’t want to waste time and money with unnecessary red tape, rigorous approval processes or assessments. If our nurses are telling us an improvement is necessary we believe them and trust our teams to make that judgement call within the remit of their area of responsibility.
This often involves a tight control on what I call ‘mission creep’ – once staff get going their enthusiasm takes over and an improvement for one ward can quite quickly spiral into something much bigger!
I help keep staff focused on making their initial change and, by human nature, they will then go on to make lots more quality improvements in the future.
As well as mentoring, I also teach on various courses run by the trust in nurse development, including our in-house foundation degree in service improvement, and a ‘professional practice award’ run in partnership with Northumbria University at degree and masters level. On all of these programmes, project work is focussed on delivering improvements and nurses are trained on the ‘The Northumbria Way’ – our own in-house improvement methodology based on a simple PDSA (plan, do study, act) process.
“There is a real hunger from our teams to push the boundaries of excellence in everything we do”
Our improvement ethos is built into everything we do, it’s part and parcel of who we are and ingrained in our DNA.
We never stop thinking about what we can do next to improve safety and quality and we want our staff to be able to challenge the status quo and feel empowered to innovate. We’ve created a culture where this can happen and there is a real hunger from our teams to push the boundaries of excellence in everything we do.
Emma Dawes is practice development matron at Northumbria Healthcare
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was awarded a Special Recognition Award at the 2015 Patient Safety Awards and awarded the Best Place to Work for 2015 in the acute care category of the Nursing Times and HSJ top employers list
Student Nursing Times Awards are open for entries from 21st September 2015: find out more and enter here