New Year Spring Cleaning by QCS

23rd January 2017

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Words by Philippa Shirtcliffe…

I’m not a fan of making New Year resolutions, by the end of the first week, I have usually slipped back into my old ways. What I do like to do though, is tackle one big new year spring clean. I find it extremely satisfying to stand back and look at a tidy cupboard with everything neatly ordered. It’s the same at work, from a quality management perspective, the beginning of the year is a good time to review what worked well last year, what didn’t work so well and what can you do this year to make things better.

I was asked last week by a Registered Manager ‘how do I know my policies are being used properly?’ It was a good question. Ensuring policies are embedded is a bit like spring cleaning- checking, tidying up and then, like the wardrobe, standing back and reviewing.  From a care perspective, there are a number of ways to check your policies are being used effectively;

  • Training – Check your training materials and that your training materials accurately reflect your own policies and procedures and staff have read and understood them. This is particularly important when you are taking on new members of staff. By checking your training, you are making sure from the outset that staff have the information to deliver care and support as planned and understand why they are having to work in a certain way.
  • Communication Consider incorporating policy discussions into 1:1 supervisions or team meetings. For example, if you want to check that staff understand the Mental Capacity Act policy you could relate it back to their role and explore issues such as – consent, refusal of care and medication. This will give staff chance to not only reflect on policies but will make sure they are delivering person-centred care, and following agreed procedures
  • Audit Your quality and governance processes are often a good indication of how well your policies and procedures are understood and embedded. For example, when reviewing medication MAR charts you can see that staff are routinely not giving a prescribed dose you need to understand why this is the case. For example – Why was the dose omitted? Why did the staff member not report? Why did the service user refuse? Why did they keep refusing?  By doing this you may identify where some elements of policy or procedure are not embedded or not understood. In the medication example, it could possibly highlight;
    • An issue with staff not fully following the medication policy
    • A lack of understanding of the importance of accurate recording
    • Issues with communication between staff
    • An issue with staff not following the reporting changes to agreed care plan (this can also be a safeguarding matter)

Once you have completed your fact find, and having a clearer understanding of why the issues came about then you can develop and action plan to make sure issues are resolved, and more importantly do not reoccur.

So, as we hurtle towards the end of January, don’t worry that you haven’t stuck to your New Year Resolution, instead, why not focus on a goal that will have significant quality benefits and ‘spring clean’ your quality and policy compliance.

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