We've been working furiously at Tameside over recent months to develop what we think is a truly remarkable capability to combine the insights we receive across a whole range of "listening' channels and activities - from patients, their families, our staff and our local stakeholders.
It's led us to develop a number of important insights that we think others may find useful
1. We 'listen' a lot but often we don't know what we're hearing!
Would you believe, we've identified around 40 separate ways in which our hospital 'listens'? And we don't think we're particularly unique in that.
Many of these are purely internal to the Trust, for example the regular Staff Open Forum, Mystery Shopper exercises, or the new 'First Friday' initiative whereby the Exec team spend time directly on the frontline with teams around the hospital.
Many are survey based - ward experience surveys, staff survey, the Friends and Family Test, the Maternity Users' survey.
Many are opinion based - including of course Patient Opinion - which we use heavily and which gives us great value.
Some are physical events in the locality - for example local Governors' constituency meetings or meetings with local decision maker and opinio formers.
And we've introduced new social media channels whereby opinion primarily outwith the hospital itself - or from people who may have strong views about the hospital (many of them very positive) but who haven't experienced a recent episode of care - can be gleaned.
Typically however, all of the insights from these myriad listening channels and processes are kept in silos. It means we can be listening a lot, but not coherently hearing what's being said. So we're building a capacity to combine them and understand them in one integrated view across the hospital.
2. People don't just want to be heard, they want to be acknowledged and engaged
Put yourself in the head of someone taking the trouble and time to say something to an NHS organisation. They don't have to do it. They're not paid to do it. They've invested their own time - and often a great deal of personal and emotional energy - in giving their views.
Of course they want to be heard. That's the minimum. But they want something more. They want to see that their own investment has been matched with some investment from the organisation. And that comes from engagement.
There are typically 3 gripes from individuals (users or staff) when it comes to trying to get engagement from an organisation
i) I don't know how to talk to you
ii) I say something, but nobody hears
iii) I make a suggestion but nothing happens
Proper engagement and response requires resolution of all three gripes.
3. It can't be left to chance, it has to be actively managed
Here's how we're going to be doing it in Tameside.
i) Putting in place and advertising all the various ways people can talk to us (importantly, including anonymously if they wish). And making sure we use all possible technologies, including the most ubiquitous technology of all - paper.
ii) Putting in place business processes, backed by a specific KPI for the organisation to monitor and manage the percentage of people who get a response - at least a holding response - within 48 hours
(iii) Putting in place business processes and systems, tightly integrated into the core improvement and business planning procceses - backed by a second KPI - to show the percentage of people who got a substantive response to their comment or suggestion within 1 calendar month.
iv) Putting in place arrangements to be open about what we have done in each case. And monitoring against variance how many suggestions made to us were actively taken up.
v) Making sure that everyone who suggested something to us gets a specific individual response as soon as we have decided what we will do or if we undertake a relevant initiative some time in the future. Including being intelligent about how large scale initiatives - for example on waiting times, or staff training or communications - can be directly relevant to hundreds of individual suggestions possibly made months ago.
Importantly, we're recognising that, in many cases, if we can't take a specific action that a person is suggesting, they will be perfectly happy to be provided with a reasonable explanation as to how we've listened to them, but decided against taking up their specific idea.
That's because, for most people, it's not simply about an organisation "listening" - it's about them engaging and responding - openly and with respect.
It's all about engagement and responseIt's all about engagement and response https://patientopinion.blob.core.windows.net/profile-pictures/1471b7e7-e2dc-4c6d-b708-33e119f2239d.png Care Opinion 0114 281 6256 https://www.careopinion.org.uk https://www.careopinion.org.uk/content/UK/1/images/logos/po_header_logo.png
Posted by Joe McCrea, Head of Engagement, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, on