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Trust asks its patients to help rate wards

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A trust near Liverpool is using patient feedback to check the standard of care on its wards as part of a rating scheme to promote high-quality care.

Patients are routinely asked about the care they have received as part of a drive to improve ward performance at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which provides services to parts of Cheshire and Merseyside.

The trust introduced its ‘wards of excellence’ scheme in January as a voluntary initiative that wards could take part in. However, since April the scheme has become mandatory for all the trust’s wards. Four out of 35 wards at the trust have so far been accredited as ‘excellent’ wards.

The trust’s assistant director of nursing Pat Major told Nursing Times that the scheme was introduced to provide assurance to patients about the standard of care being provided on their ward, while also incentivising staff to make improvements.

Ms Major said that over a three-month period wards must complete documentation that shows they are adhering to a range of metrics or measures from nutritional risk scores and early warning charts to fluid balance charts and patient identity bands.

‘Myself and a senior nurse from the professional development team will conduct a baseline assessment for each part of the audit in the first month and look for the evidence that a ward is 100% compliant against the standards in month three,’ she said.

‘In the second month we randomly select both registered and non-registered nursing staff and patients on each [ward] and ask them questions about ward performance,’ she added.

Patients at the trust are asked questions including how they rate the staff and how well their pain has been managed.

‘It is easy for ward managers to give us the written evidence for the audit but we want to make sure that patients are benefiting and that staff feel they are working as part of a successful team,’ Ms Major said.

She said that the trust board had discussed giving financial bonuses to teams who were accredited but had decided that this was not ‘appropriate’.

‘I think that from a nursing staff point of view achieving excellence is incentive enough,’ she added.

The Department of Health last week published best-practice guidance on how trusts could collect and use ‘immediate feedback’ from patients to improve care.

The guidance highlighted Homerton Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust in east London, which has introduced electronic surveys using hand-held devices. The results are then displayed on each ward with agreed actions for improvement.

Is your organisation doing something innovative in nursing? Tell Nursing Times about it by emailing steve.ford@emap.com

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