Setting your direction
Through the enabling steps you have: identified a challenge that you are committed to; drawn together your core team who you will collaborate with to make improvement's; agreed when you will meet to do the work; and have briefed people on the Quality Improvement approach that you will be using.
Before you can go any further, you need to know where you are going. This is the first step in the Model for Improvement - 'what are we trying to accomplish?'
What this question seeks for us to do is describe a clear aim for the work. To help us set this aim it can be useful to think about what an ideal future state would be like, or what ‘great care, great outcomes’ are for the issue you are tackling.
To help you to do this, first check to see if your team or service have a vision statement that describes a broader vision that you should be moving towards. You can also ask questions such as
- “What would life be like if…(current challenge was resolved)? What would people (staff / service users, carers etc.) be doing, thinking, feeling?”
- “In a perfect world, what would be the best way for this service to be provided?”
From this understanding you can then describe what the aim of your improvement project will be. This description should follow a few simple rules:
It should be:
- Focussed on delivering value from the service user / carer / customer perspective
- Aspirational, stretching but achievable
- A measureable description of what life will be like after we have improved (e.g. 'All calls will be answered in 12 seconds and by a trained operative')
It should not be:
- constrained by current ways of working
- A DESCRIPTION OF SOLUTIONS! – we must be clear about what we are trying to achieve before we decide how we will achieve it
We are describing our aim for three reasons:
- So that everyone is clear about where we are heading towards
- We can measure that we are going in the right direction
- We can make sure that we are improving towards meeting service user / carer / customer requirements
Defining the aim may be a collaborative activity amongst the members of the project team. There may also be occasions where the aim is prescribed, particularly in instances where the improvement project is focused on remedial activity.
However, in this latter situation, the creativity and talents of the team will still be able to be harnessed as well as the team owning the improvement work. This is because the how has not been defined by someone else – just the destination.
Capture your aim on the template so that it is documented and visible to the project team and others.