The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic - Peter Drucker

Why managing quality in healthcare requires a steady hand

Why managing quality in healthcare requires a steady hand

 Managing quality in healthcare seems like a rather sedate affair in the academic literature. In my experience it’s more like trying to control a herd of wild horses!  

I know….sounds a bit dramatic.

But this is how I see it when I reflect back on my service management days. It’s important to keep control of all the key elements of quality to achieve genuine service improvement. The challenge for all leaders in healthcare is to maintain a steady hand.

The wild horses I’m referring to are the Six Dimensions of Quality —

timely,

safety,

person centred,

efficiency,

effectiveness

equity

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Why you should create your Playlist for Life

Why you should create your Playlist for Life

 Remember when you were thirteen? What music were you listening to? 

What about the year you left home? 

Or maybe the day you met the love of your life?

These are the questions I pondered when I created my Playlist for Life as part of an event I was helping to run last year. Haven't heard of it?  You'll find information here.

Music brings the memories alive

A warm, mellow ache settled in my chest as I connected with the memories swirling up through the music. I feel it again, now, as I write. 

You select five songs or pieces of music, then capture in words why these have a particular significance for you. You’ll find mine on the ‘Playlist’ page. They were mostly happy times. Some relate to early transitions and are infused with angst. But all are uniquely 'me'.

I hadn't anticipated how the music would bring the memories so gloriously alive.

Dedicated to people with dementia

Playlist for Life is a charity with its origins in New York. Their work is dedicated to people with dementia. The premise: a thoughtfully compiled, highly personal playlist will help people with dementia reconnect with experiences that defined them.

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A Steady Hand on Quality

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Managing quality in healthcare seems like a rather sedate affair in the academic literature, but in my experience it's more like trying to control a herd of wild horses! Sounds a bit dramatic I know, but this is how I see it when I reflect back on my service management days. My observations suggest quality management is as unpredictable today. Probably more so.

The wild horses I'm referring to are the Six Dimensions of Quality - timely, safety, person centred, efficiency, effectiveness and equity - a framework widely used in the NHS. While the Six Dimensions framework has its origins in the USA health sector, the versatility of the framework makes it applicable to most service sectors. Personally I find the framework a useful way of making sense of quality, particularly in situations of high complexity.

In Scotland the Scottish Government sets the strategic direction for improving quality in the NHS. A few years ago the spotlight was on improving waiting times for treatment in cancer services and for surgical operations such as in hip and knee replacements (the timely and equity dimensions). Things improved and waiting times became shorter. The focus then moved to ensuring services were safe, effective, efficient and person centred.  

I can understand why different dimensions are selected for closer attention at a strategic level. This prioritisation allows additional resources to be targeted at areas identified as needing improvement. However the closer you get to the people you serve, the more unpredictable the management of quality becomes. Rather than being selective, there's a need to keep a watchful eye all six dimensions simultaneously. 

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