If you or your loved one had to come into hospital, what kind of service or experience would you expect? If you said good communication, consistent, safe and coordinated care, and being treated with kindness, respect and dignity, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact a large percent of our patients tell us that being treated this way makes a big difference to their overall quality of care and treatment. So how do we know we are providing the service we would be happy for our loved ones to receive and if not, why not?
From 26-29 April, a group of healthcare professionals, with both managerial and clinical perspectives, will be visiting our inpatient facilities. These experts, who work for other health service providers across the country, are employed by an independent agency which is contracted by the Ministry of Health to complete certification audits. During their week with us, the group will look at our organisation with independent, ‘outsider’ eyes and measure us against standards that have been set for the safe delivery of healthcare in this country.
They will be particularly interested in looking at our core standards for the delivery of clinical services – how they are delivered, the facilities within which they are delivered and the processes we use to ensure their quality. They will want to look at documentation, including clinical documentation, protocols and policies; observe staff working to see how they interact with, and respect the rights of, patients; and talk to staff about their work. Are our medication charts accurate? What steps do we take to ensure the privacy of our patients and the confidentiality of their information? How respectfully do we treat our patients and visitors? This year, the group will also be using tracer methodology, which means they will be following individual patients on their journey through our services from admission to discharge.
During the week, the certification team will give us feedback on what they’re observing and the opportunity to explain things that don’t appear right. After their visit, they’ll then write a report which we can respond to. This all culminates in us being graded according to whether or not we have passed all of the healthcare standards. We hope to pass with flying colours and receive certification for the maximum three-year period. If we do fail any standards, however, we will be given corrective actions and a timeframe for implementing these, and our certification period could be reduced.
This process is hugely important for several reasons. It determines our certification period, it gives us an independent perspective on the delivery of our services which assists us in maintaining their high quality and it’s an opportunity for all of our staff to reflect on the work that they do on a daily basis. What do you want the certification team to see when they look around our facilities, review our documentation and observe our staff working? I encourage you all to think about that, but also add that completing this process isn’t just about what the certification team sees during its week with us. We should be aiming to be an exemplar organisation that provides high quality healthcare which meets all of the national standards all of the time. This should be how we conduct business as usual.
If we are going to become the organisation we aspire to, it’s really important that we start by taking a good long look at who we are now. I’ve blogged a lot recently about meeting the granny test, the importance of compassion and creating an open culture, and how we maintain our moral compass as an organisation to ensure we provide high quality, patient-centred care. Certification will enable us to look in the mirror and gauge how well we measure up to our aspirations. We look forward to your support and hope you take this opportunity to showcase the great work we do as Team Counties.
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