Dementia is everybody’s business and I strongly believe that improvement in practice is also everybody’s business. With the recent publication of Connecting People, Connecting Support I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my experience of improvement in practice so far. Having always had a strong commitment to improvement but being aware of how much I always have to learn, I keep in mind the following quote:
“Continuous Improvement is better than delayed perfection”
In 2016 I was fortunate enough to gain a place on Cohort 9 of the Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship, which was an amazing experience (further information available on the Quality Improvement zone). This provided me with the opportunity to deepen my knowledge and understanding, as well as receive invaluable mentorship and support. It also provided me with the ability to develop my use and accuracy (most of the time) of improvement quotes!
Here are my 6 Top Tips supported by some of my favourite quotes.
1. Prepare to Fail
I was trying to run in the Lake District – lots of failing in preparation for the Lakeland 100 race!
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I look back at some of the pieces of improvement work I have been involved in and could write a whole blog about the failures! The wrong timing, the wrong problem, the wrong data (I could go on) but without the failures, there wouldn’t have been the learning and successes either. Don’t ever be afraid to try.
2. Seek to Understand
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”
How many times have you met with someone and thought to yourself – “it’s fine, I know the answer to this, I know what this person needs”. For the AHP Dementia work and for my Fellowship project, we spent a lot of time ‘seeking to understand’ from the real experts – people living with dementia and their families. We have used numerous methods to gather person experience feedback and have uncovered so much valuable information, at times completely different from what was expected. Pause and make sure you really listen.
3. Power of relationships
“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together……is success.”
We have been privileged to work alongside such motivated and talented teams whose commitment to improvement in practice is inspiring, both for the AHP Dementia work and within NHS Dumfries & Galloway. Any successes are due to great relationships and teamwork so thank you! Chocolate also helps.
4. Start small, then make it smaller, then make it smaller again!
“Dream Big. Start Small. Act Now.”
While dreaming big is usually never an issue, I am grateful to the numerous people who have suggested that my Aim may not be achievable within my timescale (or the next decade come to that!). Ask for help in breaking your idea down in to chunks and Act Now.
5. The importance of measurement
“without data you are just another person with an opinion”
This has got to be one of my favourite quotes and I think it speaks for itself. Be clear on what you are measuring and why and then your data will also speak for itself.
6. Patience and reflection
I have foregone a final quote in favour of my dogs who I like to include in any presentations or blogs! Here is a rare photo of Scapa (left) and Ruby sitting still to illustrate the importance of patience and reflection as those are two key elements of any improvement journey. I’ll finish by thanking the many people who have supported and contributed to my improvement journey so far………
Alzheimer Scotland AHP Post Diagnostic Lead, and Mental Health Occupational Therapist, NHS Dumfries & Galloway