Blog: Communities of Practice

Blog: Communities of Practice

In this latest South West Patient Safety Collaborative blog, Emma Greenslade – Head of Quality – Development Nursing and Quality at NHS NEW Devon CCG talks to us about Communities of Practice.
In November 2016 Lorna Collingwood-Burke, Chief Nursing Officer, at NHS Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) asked me to get in touch with the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) about setting up events aimed at improving safety through collaboration.
The idea behind this was in recognition that at the CCG, we are in a unique position of having serious incidents and never events from providers across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon which enables us to identify themes and trends. We wanted to question ‘what difference can we make collectively by actively sharing and working on system-wide pieces of work?’ We also wanted to take on board the Learning from Excellence ethos – as much as serious incidents to inform quality improvements in Devon.
William Lilley and Joanna Pendray from the South West Patient Safety Collaborative (SW PSC) identified and brought together national speakers, and on 22 June and 1 November 2016 a number of health staff with roles and interests in improving safety came together to learn from initiatives taking place elsewhere in the UK and to identify how they could come together to improve safety.
We asked people how they wanted to bring this together, and what did they want to do. A number of themes came out, the top themes were to form Communities of Practice that looked at Serious Incident processes and Learning from Excellence. We decided to combine this and see where it went. We came together on 23 January, 2 February, 19 May and more recently on 19 September.
There is a real tension about not wanting this to be a meeting but to be a relationship building and sharing experience that results in quality improvements for patients and the health and care system. We really need all areas of health and care represented here – admin support and coordination is vital; as well as operational safety staff and management. We have asked every member to invite a colleague from another organisation the next time that we come together on 20 November as the community is designed to be inclusive – not exclusive – anyone with an interest is welcome!
Time is recognised as a scarce resource, however we see it as crucial that we give ourselves permission to take time to reflect, share and build relationships with colleagues, particularly at a time when colleagues can be questioning of motives given the differing roles and accountabilities of organisations within our local system – we are all here to do our best for patients.
The SW AHSN has been a fantastic resource, helping to keep this community ‘on message’. We’ve also had really interesting individuals involved – although we are aware that it is too easy to see colleagues as those organisations that they represent rather than as individuals – we are a group of individuals that share a common interest and who can enhance what we do beyond organisational boundaries.
On 20 November we have Paul Mcardell from Plymouth facilitating an interactive session and we will be really challenging ourselves to think as individuals. We will also be looking at a lot of the great work taking place in the Patient Safety Launch Pad – how do we really start to change the culture in terms of asking what goes well rather than paying disproportionate attention to what goes wrong. We are using the Life QI system as a platform, and we really want to encourage other people to log on. Some people might see it as ‘just another thing to do’ but it’s all set up and is good practice.
We are really keen for as many people who are interested and feel that they have something to contribute or to learn to join us and attend future events, meetings and collaborations…
We have challenged ourselves to welcome at least one new member per existing member to the community to bring in fresh learning, skills and perspectives and to reinforce that communities of interest are inclusive and open to individuals who share an interest in improving safety regardless of role, organisation or experience.
I recently attended and shared my experience of the community of practice at the Q Community Masterclass where I made lots of new contacts, increased the membership for the Improving Safety Through Collaboration Community of Practice and learned more about setting up Networks. The most striking thing for me about the day was to learn that we are all learning and finding our way in our quest to build networks – regardless of role, experience or topic – and getting things wrong – and learning from this is all part of the process. Colleagues were incredibly forthcoming with offers of skills and help – and really willing to contribute to problem-solving, ideas and joining networks – a fantastic day! Many thanks.

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