Future Hospital Programme – Better Conversations

The past few weeks have been busy for me, meeting lots of C4CC partners and community groups and learning how the principle of ‘better conversations’ is being played out and reaping rewards for people with care and support needs across the country.

A few weeks ago, I was invited as an outside expert to attend a seminar on the Future Hospitals Programme run by the Royal College of Physicians.

It highlighted the fantastic work which is being done at a number of sites around the country to create a much better deal for people using their services, in particular older people with frailty and multiple long-term conditions.

All the ground-breaking projects were to be commended, but two in particular caught my interest.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board serves a largely rural community in North Wales, which brings its own obvious challenges. Their C@rtref project (meaning ‘home’ in Welsh) is pioneering the use of teleconferencing video technology in local community clinics to enable people to have a follow-up consultation with a doctor in the main hospital, without the need to travel.

It has proved a much more effective use of time for staff, with clear efficiency savings, while for the older people themselves it has meant having a single, holistic conversation with a geriatrician rather than several different conversations with different doctors, as well as much less wasted time in travelling. Seventy-two per cent of those seen were aged over 75, yet more than 80 per cent were satisfied with this new way of doing business.

I was also struck by the project in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which aims to provide personalised care for people at, or as close to home as is safe and appropriate. One study showed that their multi-disciplinary and co-designed approach prevented 59 per cent of admissions. I was impressed they had trained a team of volunteers to carry out detailed interviews with people in their own homes about their experience of care. In their words, in-ward surveys, ‘only tell you about a part of the journey.’

The examples showed that better conversations can be about the way we conduct doctor-patient consultations or how we take the time to really listen to what matters to people, whether in hospital or the community. And what struck me was that the staff involved were genuinely committed to making a difference to people, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. We are very much looking forward to working with the Royal College of Physicians and others over the coming months, to see if we can grow these person-centred approaches far and wide.

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