Part of the QI faculty at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), Kelly Anderson shares how ImproveWell has helped her bring improvement and change to her team post-Covid-19
At the beginning of 2020, Kelly Anderson was tasked with determining organisational priorities and instilling joy in work. She was just in the process of pinning down exactly what that meant and how to achieve it when Covid-19 struck. Luckily, the Trust had worked with ImproveWell before, so when lockdown finished, she contacted Lara to find out how we could work together. And she now wishes they’d had access to the app throughout the first wave.
“When we came back together after the first lockdown, I think we struggled to connect as a team because some people were still shielding and some working from home. We needed a way to build communication,” Kelly explains. “We needed a way to measure how we felt each day, what made us have a good day, and if not, what could we do about it? So we used ImproveWell to pull us all together. It’s really quick and easy to use – and it gave us real-time data. We’ve made changes based on that, which has been a real shift for us. So it’s really helped us reconnect as a team.”
As with all changes, it took a little while for everyone to throw themselves into it. “I think people wanted to see how it would look before they started to allow themselves to submit those good day measures. That’s been fine, because that’s what the essence of quality improvement is all about. It’s about starting small, scaling up, and helping to reduce some of those anxieties. And there’s certainly been buy-in from people who I thought might not have used the app – even they seem to like it.”
Pause for thought
“The most significant change is that at 3pm each day it allows us to stop, reflect and think about what’s been good or what’s been bad – and write it down. Personally, it’s allowed me to reflect and to enjoy my evenings again rather than ruminating.
“The staff love that they get a push notification because it reminds them to stop and think about the day. I’m not sure we would have had the feedback if we hadn’t had the app. It offers a way of being able to say what you’re feeling and why. And the fact that it’s anonymous is popular. A lot of people like that because they can be really honest about how they feel. It’s also about the team giving us real time data for us to react, reflect, and look back on to ask, ‘what changes can we make this week?’ rather than leaving it for it to fester and create dynamics that don’t need to be there.
“People asked me why the feedback is limited to five words, and I’ve had to explain the need to be concise and focused. That limit really makes you reflect on why you’re saying it was a good or bad day. I think that’s a positive. We get so used to reams of qualitative data.”
And it solves a few headaches for Kelly and her team. “It’s on your work phone, takes less than a minute to complete, and an added benefit is that we don’t have to collate the information – it goes directly to the dashboard. We’re all QI practitioners, so we’re very aware of what data can do, and the benefits of having real-time data to hand. Annual surveys are great, but as they’re done retrospectively, you have to wait for ages. With this, it’s so quick that it allows you the space and time to be reactive because you’ve got the evidence in front of you! And QI is all about showing your evidence, your supporting data.”
“Over the last six weeks we’ve been using the idea suggestion function, too. It’s one of the reasons I like the platform because it encourages thinking about solutions rather than focusing on problems. If the team comes up with the ideas, it leads to better buy-in when it comes to implementing change.” They are currently thinking about improvements for remote working and learning, plus what they can do as a team to recover from the last seven months. “ImproveWell can help staff get into that mindframe of ‘okay, we really want to keep improving, we want to see continuous improvement, we want staff to be autonomous and empowered to submit some of those ideas and run some of those projects’.”
It’s also helped to generate ideas to counter some of the loneliness and anxiety associated with remote working. “We take it in turns to run a monthly team quiz – we have real fun! It’s helped us to get to know each other, especially as some people joined right when Covid-19 hit, so we haven’t been able to build relationships. And a lot of people have been saying they miss having a chat. So our team meetings now start three minutes earlier so we can have that cuppa, have that chat, ask what everyone’s been up to – the conversations you’d have working face to face.”
“In hindsight if we’d have used it through [the first wave of] Covid-19, we probably would have done some things very differently. We had a lot of issues around redeployment which occurred across the board, but we’d never had to face something like that before, so there’s been a lot of learning around that. If we had actually had a platform or a working group around redeployment, we probably could have made changes a lot quicker and it might not have had the impact that it did on some people.”
In a nutshell
“For me, ImproveWell is about giving staff the ability to submit how they’re feeling, useful ideas they may have, and it gives us real-time data. That means we can actually do something around problem areas or suggestions they may have. It helps us to measure the improvement and what we can get out of that.”