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TOPIC: Staff engagement is key to improving NHS patient experience

Staff engagement is key to improving NHS patient experience 1 week ago #1

The NHS Constitution lays out the value of staff engagement: ‘Engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide… all staff will be empowered to put forward ways to deliver better and safer services.’

With an ever increasing focus on improving services within the health sector, staff engagement is an essential ingredient in the NHS meeting the challenges it currently faces. While the focus on improving patient experiences is of course a good one, it cannot be achieved without the proactive involvement of healthcare workers.

Research studies have shown that good staff engagement positively impacts the quality of service provision. It is associated with patient satisfaction as hospital staff typically have has the insights and understanding of the ways in which the services they deliver can be more responsive. High staff engagement also leads to longer term and more beneficial impacts on patient mortality, infection rates, and staff absenteeism and turnover. In short, the more engaged workforce members are, the better the workplace environment and patient outcomes become.

This link between happy, involved teams and good outcomes is not just seen in the health sector. Commercial organisations have shown that engaged teams correlate to good customer metrics and increased revenues.

However, a recent survey by the CIPD ‘Employee Outlook: Focus on Culture Change and Patient Care in the NHS’ www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/survey-repor...atient-care-nhs.aspx found that, although pride in working for the health service and associated professions is high, overall employee engagement levels are low compared with other sectors. In fact, less than a third of healthcare employees felt actively engaged according to the CIPD employee engagement index.

One of the reasons behind this lack of engagement is the way in which workers’ achievements and efforts are acknowledged and focussed on improving service delivery. The CIPD survey found that 44% of respondents thought that the way in which people are currently recognised and rewarded does not ensure employees are focused on delivering high-quality patient care.

An integrated patient experience programme can be instrumental in changing employee behaviour at all levels to develop a culture in which everyone is engaged and takes responsibility for and is engaged in improving the patient experience. Empathica’s patient experience programmes aim to motivate and empower staff, by allowing patients to identify where they have received exceptional care. Using Empathica’s WOW system, patient feedback is flagged up to the relevant manager, allowing them to commend specific employees for their commitment to outstanding patient care. This ‘real’ feedback is highly motivating and has been hugely influential in ensuring everyone supports the programme and actively encourages patients to participate.

Celebrating good practice and encouraging staff to view their achievements positively, making them feel valued and appreciated, goes a long way towards engaging and more importantly empowering staff. Healthcare trusts striving for increased patient insight in order to improve their service can learn a lot from the private sector who have long seen the benefits of engaging staff in their customer service goals to further exploit the talents of their workforce and build an emotional connection to customers.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust have learnt the power of real positive comments from retailers like Waitrose, Boots and Iceland. In the last 12 months over 2,200 patients have highlighted a team or individual for the great care they provided. This stream of positive feedback has increased staff involvement in encouraging patients to leave feedback on their hospital experience and increased colleague engagement in making the changes that will lead to improved patient experience.

To find out more about how Empathica’s patient experience management programmes are engaging NHS staff and improving patient experience www.empathica.com/industries/healthcare/
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