Oct 072019

Dominique Bird, Head of Capacity and Capability, tells us about plans for the new Academy and how growing your own veg really is a science!

I’m pleased to share with you that my efforts at home growing vegetables seem to have finally paid off! Although I’d put lots of time and effort into my previous attempts there wasn’t much worth serving up at dinner time. After much perseverance and learning from my well-intentioned mishaps, the results have stepped up a notch and my boys have been enjoying eating the bumper crop we’ve produced over the summer.

This has got me thinking of how we use improvement science to learn about a system. The past couple of years for my veggie patch (my system in this scenario) has focused on learning what works, in what situations with what conditions and with what growing partners – carrots and tomatoes!

Reflecting on what we have achieved in NHS Wales through the Improving Quality Together programme, has resulted in similar conclusions.  IQT was incredibly successful in establishing a common language for improvement across NHS Wales. The Model for Improvement has offered a simple framework for those embarking on their first improvement work/project, and raised awareness of this approach to over half the workforce.  However, when we look at the ‘so what’ element, there are lessons to learn.

Just like my tomatoes and carrots in various patches of my garden, some of the training has resulted in crops of improvement projects, combining to make significant impacts on the safety, effectiveness, person-centred approach, timeliness, efficiency and equity of our services.  However, just as many have faltered – for a number of different reasons.

Over the last 18 months we have been working with improvement teams within all organisations, to see what makes a successful improvement project and what are the common barriers. We’ve been looking at what is needed in terms of wider capability in the system; we have also been working with network experts to look at how these elements are best connected in Wales; and international mature improvement systems to look at learning on cultural system wide change.

As part of the relaunch of 1000 Lives Improvement as Improvement Cymru, we are bringing this learning together under the umbrella of the Improvement Cymru Academy.  To embed an ethos of improvement across the system, the Academy will provide support on the three following areas:

  • Conditions – organisational support to enable a system of improvement
  • Connections – networking improvement leaders, locally, across the country and beyond
  • Capability – improvement development for individuals, teams, coaches and leaders

The Academy will work closely with experts in all areas of the domains of quality, broadening the spectrum of improvement approaches to meet the maturing needs of the system.

When nurturing improvement within our system, we need to focus on all the aspects at once – but where to start? This is the most common question I am asked – you can’t grow a forest immediately, but paying attention to the conditions of the soil, how the plants and trees will connect together, and nurturing small steps in the most fertile ground, will give you a boost.

We’ll  be sharing more with you over the coming weeks of what we hope to achieve with our Academy and we hope you can join us at the launch of Improvement Cymru on the 25 November where you will find out more. Read further about Improvement Cymru Academy here, and get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

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