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Optimal Winter Ward at Aintree Hospital

Tue 18th February, 2014
Optimal Winter Ward at Aintree Hospital

Following the closure of the Winter Ward at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Spring 2013, the Medical Division decided to use an LiA approach to plan ahead for winter 2013/14.

This effort was led by the Matron and Ward Manager, who were determined to build on the learning and improve the experience for both patients and staff.

They started the process in summer 2013 with an LiA Staff Conversation. This was attended by a rich mix of relevant staff groups and they focused on the following simple questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What could we do better next year?

Working across the usual boundaries with a truly multidisciplinary group including nursing staff, consultants, junior doctors and therapists, they developed a 'blue print' for opening the Winter Ward which became an integral part of the Trust’s winter plan.

A team building day was held in advance of the ward opening, in order to allow all staff allocated to the Winter Ward to meet, introduce and learn about each other’s roles, background and experience. On the day, staff chose a suitably seasonal name for the ward - 'Holly Ward’.

Staff requested that the ward was opened using a phased approach. This helped to ensure that they could safely manage patients, and also gave them time to learn about each other’s skills. Building on past learning, it was decided that the ward would open earlier - in December rather than January - to allow time for any early operational problems, and equipment and resourcing issues, to be addressed.

Staff were involved and included in the set-up, helping to build team cohesiveness and involvement. The team were given ownership of any issues and problems that arose, and 'permission to act' in response.

There have already been some very encouraging outcomes as a result of a multidisciplinary team working together including:

  • A more structured speciality management of clinical conditions leading to better patient experience and safer care
  • The provision of more comprehensive junior medical cover
  • The creation of development opportunities for nursing and clerical staff
  • The sharing of good practice across the Division and evidence of lessons learnt from the previous year
  • An earlier and more efficient operation due to the early engagement with all services supporting the winter ward e.g OT, physiotherapy, porters, domestics and catering.

Moving forward, ‘Holly Ward’ will hold its own LiA Ward Conversation as part of the LiA Optimal Wards programme in February 2014. This will give them the opportunity to identify further changes they would like to see, and to take ownership of making them happen.

A further debriefing session will be held in April to ensure they are ready to 'raise the bar' once again for the following year. This will include an LiA Pulse Check to gauge how valued and engaged staff are feeling.


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