Our environment audits of outpatients’ areas where cancer patients attend, were devised originally by Jaff Newton and along with the other members of the group, she has been directing them for several years now.
There is a fair bit of paperwork involved to begin with to make sure everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet, but essentially we send 2 or 3 of our group into the main areas of outpatient clinics where cancer patients and carers may be.
We meet the key workers first to make sure they’re happy and also, to find out if they have any concerns we need to know about.
Then we work through a long checklist of issues that influence the cancer patient experience … and that’s anything from signage and waiting times down to the state of the toilets.
This all gets compiled into a report plus an action plan which we develop not only with the key workers, but also with our Head of Patient Services and other managers who are in a position to activate improvements.
Very often we’ll find that the key workers have been concerned about something for months, but nothing has been done to put it right. It’s only when we come along and make an issue of it that things begin to move.
In the years in which environment audits have been conducted, we have seen whole departments get painted, toilets replaced, signage repositioned, and even an obsolete sink be ripped off a waiting room wall!
But there is all that and much, much more.
These things may seem cosmetic to some people, but to cancer patients and carers who are going through incredibly stressful times, even small things matter.
After 12-18 months, we go back to the departments we have audited to see how things are going and how the action plan is being implemented. If necessary, further adjustments are made to it. Then in another 12-24 months we start the process all over again in a rolling programme.
And now that we’ve established a rolling programme of environment audits for outpatients, we are hoping soon to be allowed to conduct our audits in the communal areas of inpatient wards.
Sharing the Caring for Cancer in Milton Keynes