Quality Compliance Systems are undertaking a full review of all the policies and procedures that we provide to assist care services. The revised policy format has been tested extensively and the best research and information has been used to inform the content of the policy. Nice guidance is always used to inform policy development when applicable as it is widely trusted and informs best practice.
We always ensure that there is a review sheet on the front of the policy where we include the underpinning knowledge that has contributed to the content of the policy. The underpinning knowledge includes all the research that has been used, and the link to the actual guidance on the review sheet is included so that the reader can explore the policy area more thoroughly and read the NICE guidance.
We have developed over 60 policies that have clearly referenced NICE guidance and materials, and feedback from the 3,340 locations that use our system is very positive and they have appreciated the access to the ‘source material’, our policy writers always consider the inclusion and reference to NICE materials, The range of guidance and quality standards used is too long to include within the 1000 character limit, but over 35 have been used to date, and this number is ever increasing.
Aims and objectives
As a company we are determined to improve the care and support received by people receiving services, and also to make the lives of the people running services as simple as possible and free them up to focus on the vital task of supporting great care.
One element of this primary objective is to ensure that the information, in the form of policies and procedures, that is supplied to the care services is clear, informative, up to date and references best practice.
We are currently developing all our policies into a new format that has been well researched, and has had very positive feedback from users, businesses and fellow professionals. The revised format uses icons, includes key facts, identifies outstanding practice in the policy area, includes definitions of complex terms. All this information is to promote the delivery of the information in the policy, and to be easily used and understood and to make the policy a ‘live’ document that actually informs practice rather than being a document that is only referenced in extremis. We have also developed an App that promotes the delivery of the policy product and makes it so all staff have full access to all the policies and the NICE guidance that has been used to inform the content. This assists the primary objective of improving the quality of care delivered to the over 120,000 people using services that are directly affected by the content of our policies and management system.
NICE guidance and materials are always referenced where applicable as we know and understand that the quality of the materials is high, based upon reviewed research and is highly regarded in the relevant field.
Also by having the live link to the actual NICE guidance as part of the underpinning knowledge section of the policy, we are assured that the content of the high-quality information that NICE has produced has an increased chance of being read by staff that are directly involved in the delivery of care and support, so it in affect supports NICE objectives of providing guidance and materials and making sure that they are effective and used by staff and others.
The live link to the NICE guidance also allows staff and other readers to investigate the policy area in more detail if they so wish, so our processes and structures will drive knowledge in the sector and assist with the delivery of information to the end user, which has historically always been an issue in health and social care.
The feedback we are receiving is very supportive of our policy format and the quality of the content, and the policy design where we provide the underpinning knowledge, or as we refer to it as ‘showing our working’.
Reasons for implementing your project
The reasons for making the change were many, but primarily to make policies and procedures more accessible, simple to read and practical to use. We also were determined to ensure that we were transparent and open about the knowledge that has supported the development of policies, which will give the reader confidence in the product, and increase the probability of the content being used to make lives of people using services better.
Prior to the project to convert all policies into the revised format ( a process that we are approximately 55% of the way through) they were inconsistent in their format, content and the research that supported the development was not shared with the reader, and as such didn’t encourage increasing knowledge or the sharing of best practice.
We developed the new policy format in partnership with clients and users of the system, and listened to their concerns and involved them in the development of the product. The main learning was we needed a consistent format, develop key facts for the policy, make them easy to read, explain any complicated terms and encourage improvement.
The revised policies should increase productivity and efficiency across health and social care as less mistakes will be made, the workforce will be more knowledgeable and will develop more transferable skills for the benefit of the social care workforce. Also the space between researchers, academics and front line staff will be reduced and the opportunities for improvement more widely accessible.
Quality Compliance Systems are a national organisation and have a very wide reach health and social care services registered with CQC. We currently have over 3,340 location that use our services across the England, Wales and Scotland, and in those locations we have over 34, 000 registered users of our system. So you can appreciate our reach is wide, and we are very conscious that any change we make will potentially have a big impact, and this has been a driver for improvement.
How did you implement the project
We did not have an elaborate plan for the integration of NICE guidance to support our policy development. We know about NICE and the resources available, and the growing influence and range of resources and we wanted to tap into this readily available resource to improve understanding and share best practice.
We ensured that policy writers, reviewers and developers were aware of NICE guidance and the importance of including information to support policy content and demonstrate effective research.
The use of NICE was part of a bigger project to review our policy format and content and as previously described we did this using co production principles. We ensured through the process that everyone’s views were encompassed into the thinking, and opinions were encouraged to be given and respected. We also highlighted the benefits for people using services of encouraging views in the design of the new format. In effect we took people ‘on a journey’ with us, and highlighted the benefits of the changes we were making.
The costs of implementation cannot be fully defined, but there were additional costs associated with development, but these were covered from internal resources and widening our customer base.
The project definitely met the aims and objectives, and continues to grow and be embedded into business as usual for QCS and the policy development programme.
The policies, where they include reference to NICE guidance, have improved the quality of the product, the understanding of the reader and will have improved the level of care provided by the wide range of staff that are reliant upon QCS policies to support the delivery of excellent care and support.
Our overarching medication policy (CM03) that references NICE guidelines has been read, opened and understood over 19,400 times since it was released in April 2017 – from the wide uptake of the policy, we can state that the policy has assisted a wide range of providers to support service users effectively with medication, and NICE guidance has supported this practice.
To illustrate results quantitatively is very difficult due to the wide range of users of the policies and procedures and also the range of NICE materials that have been used to inform the content of the policies, but we can safely say that quality has been improved , and the learning opportunities for users of the policies have been increased as access to the source materials has been facilitated as a result of the project.
It also means that the quality of care being delivered to people using services has been improved, although again this link is difficult to directly link to a specific example. The people that use services will not necessarily know about the policy, or relate the improvements in the care and support they are receiving to this project, but the outcome is the important matter – and quality is improving, and users of our system are valuing the improvements to policies and the ready access to research and guidance.
Key learning points
The key learning from the project was the importance of using the best guidance, information and research possible to inform policy development, but more importantly to be open about the research that has been used, share the ‘source material’ for the benefit of all.
Developing products in a ‘co production’ manner is also extremely valuable, as again if you take people on a journey with you, you are more likely to have a better product at the end, and also to receive a better take up of usage, as the product will be more focussed on the needs of the end user.
Being open and transparent is also another key learning point – if you are developing an idea or a product sharing what has contributed to the success is a more encompassing and valuable way of working. It is a longer term view of making care better for everyone, rather than being ‘self-centred’ and protectionist about your service. In health and social care we need to reduce ‘silo working’ and work together, share and think about what is best for the person in receipt of services – and this project has been an excellent example of this, and could easily be replicated by others.