A major ambition for many health and care services is to consistently and reliably provide more meaningful involvement, more personalised care and more choice for people receiving those services. While a challenge, it is also the right thing to do.
People receiving health and care services frequently report on individuals and teams who they feel have provided exceptional care – they describe great communication where they have felt involved, care that feels like it has been created just for them and that they are able to confidently make choices about their journey. If only this was the case for all interactions. The right thing is to put ourselves in a position where we can consistently and reliably provide this level of health care to all. Recent evidence suggests that this can lead to a range of desired improvements for example; reductions in re-admissions, primary care visits and adverse safety incidents and improvements in patients understanding and taking their medications correctly (Doyle et al. 2012).
A range of tools and methods are available at Counties Manukau Health to help people to achieve this new way of working together. These approaches provide a framework to capture and understand health experiences and then work together with staff and patients to design better services. A critical aspect is to really understand the challenges from the perspective of those who use the service in order to gather insights and themes, from which we can gain ideas about solutions for the challenges.
The approaches are transferable to diverse areas, for example; those who might want to understand a whole patient pathway to those who wan to explore one specific element of that journey whether that be in a hospital, community or GP practice setting.
Just released by the Health Quality and Safety Commission is a new resource, Engaging with Consumers; a guide for district health boards. Co-developed by health and care staff and consumers within New Zealand it provides an excellent starting point to working together to create that better future. The guide is freely available to download via this link – http://www.hqsc.govt.nz/our-programmes/consumer-engagement/publications-and-resources/publication/2162/