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NHS Institute supports staff to help design services

The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement is calling for NHS staff to help move the NHS from a service that does things to and for its patients to one that works with patients to better support their needs, at an event for frontline staff today.

The event marks the launch of a new guide and set of tools from the NHS Institute called the "experience based design (ebd) approach". The guide aims to show staff how they can work more effectively with patients to understand their needs and use this understanding to redesign services.

The NHS Institute led pilot schemes across the country to develop the guide. At each of the test sites, patients, carers and staff looked at their own experiences throughout the treatment and care journey and worked together to make improvements.   This has resulted in services that are more patient-focused and significant improvements in areas such as dignity, safety, waiting and patient information.

The ebd approach works by encouraging and supporting patients and staff to tell their stories. The focus is on capturing and understanding patients' and carers' actual experiences of receiving care and the staff experience of delivering care rather than feedback of the technical process.

One of the pilot schemes at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust used a Big Brother style Diary Room to encourage patients to share their experiences and suggest how things could be made better.

The suggestions led to direct improvements, including: investment in additional genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics to reduce waiting times; building a dedicated chute between the emergency floor and pathology lab to decrease the waiting time for test results; and developing a new patient information sheet for the elderly care ward, giving useful numbers for patients or relatives once discharged.

Lynne Maher, Head of Innovation Practice at the NHS Institute, said: "If NHS services are to improve, it's essential that staff start thinking about how to meaningfully involve patients. The ebd approach is at its most powerful when applied to healthcare because people often feel at their most vulnerable when they need NHS services.

"Feedback from our pilot sites has been overwhelmingly positive. Finding out how patients feel about the service has helped them to make huge differences to patient care: improving patient safety, patient experience and even reducing unnecessary costs."

The experience based design approach guide and tools are aimed at both frontline and managerial staff in the NHS and available free to all NHS staff.  There is also a DVD available, which shows some of the results through case study examples, and illustrates to staff how they can implement the ebd approach themselves.

NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement