• 10Jan

    Patient experiences used to improve mental health services

    In the Guardian this week Oxleas NHS discuss their experience of using the Kings Fund experience-based co-design toolkit to improve patient experiences of mental health wards.  

    The toolkit approach captures the experiences of patients, carers and staff through discussion, observation and filmed interviews; then brings them together to explore findings and to work in small groups to feed this into service improvement. Neil Springham, head of arts therapies and researchnet co-ordinator at Oxleas NHS, and Ami Woods,art therapist and researchnet member at Oxleas NHS write in the article:

    “The result of our EBCD work was striking. In terms of assessing patient experience, there is nothing that can match people describing what they went through directly to camera. Their descriptions of what worked, and why, gave us information impossible to get any other way.

    It became clear that it is not procedural approaches (such as diagnosis or care plan), which set the tone of an admission, but human contact with staff. Even the briefest of human communication had a disproportionately powerful and positive effect if it was based on an empathetic approach. We found this even when patients felt they were suffering delusions or were closed down and uncommunicative.

    At the viewing, staff had tears in their eyes, saying the videos put them in touch with what they came into nursing for. Rather than being a criticism of nursing, the videos were a boost for staff, letting them know that they as people were the most important factor for service users in an acute state of distress.

    Yet the effect of the films was not limited to ward staff. Senior managers also received reliable data about what patients experience and value. They were then able to use those descriptions to redesign processes around the ward and to bring that human contact to the foreground, on an equal footing with better-established clinical and administrative priorities. The ward was able to build its procedures around the emotional touch points identified by EBCD and has managed to reduce its complaints by 80% over a 14-month period.”

    The full article can be read here. For more information on the project visit Oxleas NHS here.