Of course the best patient experience can only happen if the people who deliver it have the right tools for the job. An essential part of improving the patient experience is having good feedback tools. The industry is flooded with various surveys and mechanisms for undertaking them. These are valid and an important part of the critical patient feedback loop but we wanted to add two further feedback tools to the mix. Both particularly effective in getting feedback from a group where surveys don’t quite work. The first idea started at Manchester Children’s Hospital and has now spread to various Trusts around the country is called Pants and Tops. It is a beautifully simple idea. Every day a “washing line” is created (in a ward or other environment). Children are then provided with blank pieces of paper in the shapes of ‘pants’ and ‘tops’. The pants are used to provide feedback on what’s bad. (For readers outside of the UK, ‘pants’ is slang for bad.) The tops are used for – yes, you guessed it – what the children liked, what’s worked the best. The pants and tops are then attached to the clothes line with clothes pegs or paper clips and are a great visually interactive way of providing feedback.
Another great tool for involving children in getting feedback comes from Southampton Children’s Hospital. The hospital identified frequent or longer stay patients who are aged 10 or order. Each child is given a ‘kit’ and tasked with becoming a ‘Secret Agent’. The kit contains a notepad, torch, glasses, magnifying glass, even a moustache and binoculars.
They are then sent around in their best Secret Agent behaviour to observe what’s gone well, who treated them nicely, what they saw, what they didn’t like. Once there is enough feedback, the information is collated onto a storyboard which is then fed back to the children’s hospital governance.
Another great and simple tool aimed at young people but this time around communication rather than feedback is a Top Tips cards. This was developed by a youth forum in Blackpool Victoria Hospital which is made up of a group of 11-16 year olds. These teen experts developed a Top Tips card that helped clinicians develop skills and tips on how to speak to young people. These Top Tips cards include questions that children and young people are most likely to want to know and include questions such as “Will one of my parents be allowed to stay?”; “Can I have a TV or my games” etc.
Another tool aimed at communication but infinitely more high tech is the Beam Pro telepresence. It is in effect a video communication tool but with significantly better audio and visual capabilities. The BeamPro is also on wheels – operating almost as a mobile robot and so a Doctor can virtually roam through the wards interacting with patients even though they might be the other side of the world. For all those people who wish they could be in two places at once, this is as close as it gets.
And we end on a tool that certainly supports staff but benefits patients hugely and that is Personal Care Packs which are cropping up in NHS Trusts around the UK. It is not unusual for patients to be admitted into hospital with no prior warning and then need to stay for a minimum of 48 hours as decisions are made about their future treatment. In those cases, a patient may be unable to access basic toiletries which can cause even more distress and concern. In these circumstances they are given a Personal Care Pack which include items such as toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, soap and a comb.
Obviously the contents can be tailored and enhanced according to the needs of different patients. Patients have fed back that being able to have a wash and comb their hair enhanced their dignity and how they feel about themselves which is so important when so much else is out of their control. Yet another example of simplicity and thoughtfulness making a significant change in the patient experience.
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