World Patient Safety Day: safe health workers – safe patients

The theme for this year’s World Patient Safety Day on 17 September focuses on the safety of our health workers, recognising this as fundamental to the safety of our patients. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated risks, hazards and challenges that health workers on the frontline face on a daily basis. Furthermore, working in stressful environments makes health workers more prone to errors that can lead to patient harm. More than ever, we need to invest in the wellbeing of our health workers in order that we can keep our patients and their families safe too. Vicky Bartlett, Rowcroft’s Deputy Director of Patient Care and professional lead, explains how Rowcroft is working to achieve this.

“Keeping everyone safe on the frontline throughout the pandemic has been challenging . For our clinical teams, we have always worked by the mantra that in order to take care of others, you must first take care of yourself – and COVID has once again proved this to be the case. We are working on prioritising the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of our health workers, in order to keep our patients and their families safe. Patient safety cannot exist without health worker safety; the two go hand-in-hand.

“Upholding patient safety and ensuring the highest standards of end-of-life patient care have always been at the heart of Rowcroft’s policies and procedures. But the COVID crisis has added a whole new layer of complexity to what is already a very complex type of care. In responding to the crisis, we have quickly embraced new ways of working in order to maintain our very high standards of care through the most challenging of circumstances. We are following all the latest government guidance including on: wearing personal protective equipment (PPE); ensuring our workplaces and care spaces are COVID-secure; adhering to guidelines on personal hygiene, hand sanitisation and social distancing; carrying out rigorous cleaning in our hospice; altering our hospice visitor policy; and where possible carrying out patient consultations remotely via video link or telephone. All of these measures and more are designed to keep our patients and clinical teams safe.

“A particular success has been the adoption of the innovative video platform AccuRX – which we are using for video consultations where possible to enable our care teams to reach vulnerable patients who are shielding from COVID, without compromising patients’ safety. The video software is proving to be more effective in clinical assessments that purely telephone consultations.

“Other effective initiatives that we have  to increase patient safety include audits around patient experiences and satisfaction (to identify any possible safety issues), the implementation of a new safer call bell system in our hospice, and supporting new staff through clinical development discussion sessions where we discuss and explore patient safety issues and procedures. Due to the introduction of new and rigorous procedures, we have also seen significant achievements in infection control, which again are helping to keep patients, families and our care teams safe. All our teams – including housekeeping, admin, catering, IT, estates and education – are fully on board and invested in all the safety measures that we are taking. This support from across the organisation is crucial in ensuring that we can maintain the very highest standards of care and safety.

“Rowcroft puts people’s choices at the very centre of their end-of-life care, encouraging patients to be actively involved in every decision about the type of care they receive, believing this to be a prerequisite for dignified, sensitive, expert care. We help patients to enhance their knowledge about safety in health care, to take control of their care choices, to ask questions, to communicate, to raise concerns, and to provide accurate information about their health and history. All of this goes such a long way in helping us deliver the most effective and safest type of care to our patients.

“When it comes to patient safety, we know that we cannot rest on our laurels. Health advice and guidance is exceptionally fast-moving, particularly where COVID is concerned, and we are always looking for new ways to improve our practice in line with cutting edge research. We know we must remain open to change, and we must continue to adapt, evolve and embrace new practices. We must continue to speak up if we spot concerns, and we must learn from our mistakes. By doing so, we can provide the safest and very best experience of care for our patients and families, and at the same time, we can keep our health workers safe too. We at Rowcroft are united in our resolve to do this.”

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