A year in the life of AQuA: Andrea McGuinness

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Dec 18 2019 Blogs

As we near the end of the year, we start to think back on the months gone by, and having time to reflect on the year offers us the opportunity to celebrate achievements, learn some lessons and reassess for the New Year.

We asked some of our programme leads to share their thoughts and reflections on 2019, covering the expert work that AQuA have done to support our members and customers on their improvement journeys and what they’re looking forward to in 2020.

In our final blog of the series, Andrea McGuinness, Head of Improvement and NHS Quest Lead, reflects on the importance of the Patient Safety work undertaken at AQuA and the impact that the launch of World Patient Safety Day in September has had on a global scale.

I’m a big Dr Who fan, not a fanatic just a fan. I like that Dr Who invites us to constantly reflect on our perception of same and different, right and wrong, normal and abnormal. My husband reckons I over think the shows purpose and I am ok with that. That makes me feel more right not less J.

I think the scripts and story lines translate beautifully to the world we are living in today and that the messages are about working together and celebrating differences without driving fear or force.  Dr Who always tries to get a peaceful outcome.  Dr Who uses words and actions not weapons, Dr Who recognises that fear, aggression and single mindedness underpin many issues facing Earth and Non Earth worlds connecting more effectively.  In addition many of the challenges to Earth are because the worlds beyond are no longer able to provide the resources or sustain the life of those who live there (by the way does any of this sound familiar yet?).

Why I am referring to this for a safety blog?  It’s because the culture and behaviours of the Dr and his colleagues are exactly those we need to replicate if we are to improve safety for everyone.  Understanding, accepting and working together for solutions is the way forward. Working without using fear or force to improve safety. Letting people know it is not ok to bully, force or intimidate people and also accepting that it is not ok for harm to happen.

My experience is people don’t think it is ok for harm to happen and we want to make people feel and experience safety in all settings. We haven’t stopped trying to make care safer and we won’t stop trying.  What we can do is be nicer to each other and try to do this together. What we can do is hold onto our care and kindness. One of the most poignant statements I heard Dr Who say was about the challenge of doing the right thing when it is hard.

“I DO WHAT I DO BECAUSE IT’S RIGHT! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that. Just kind”

I would like to think that this is the mantra we can all try and hold onto whenever we feel ground down or are facing a million pressures.  Perhaps the one thing we can all have and hold in common is our human kindness.

In September this year the World Health Organisation launched the first Global Patient Safety day. This day recognised the shared challenges, ambitions and opportunity that exist globally for improving patient safety. Recognising that patient safety as a global issue is both reassuring and disturbing to me.  I often hear the phrase “first world problems” in relation to the issues we face in the Western world compared to the perceived more basic life threatening problems faced in less developed countries. Which leads me to ask what are the shared opportunities and are we really facing the same patient safety issues?

I wonder what communities and health care providers in third world countries feel about the wealth and world we live in still creates the same issues they face and it is a fair question I think.  How can we have all we have and still have safety issues? Maybe the answer lies in the common denominator that is people? We are the thing we have in common! The slogan aligned to this 1st WHO global safety day was “speak up for patient safety”. Suggesting to me that health care wealth and equipment are only as effective as the people who use them?  The human culture of safety is perhaps our common ground?

At AQuA we are proud of our commitment to the “softer skills” for safety, including Human Factors, Appreciative Inquiry, Psychological Safety and understanding the culture surrounding safe (or not) services. Over the next year, we will continue to build upon our expertise, our community and our offers to support even greater understanding and learning around how people respond to and influence the world they work in. We are looking forward to contributing on a wider scale to the whole world of safety and next year hope to share with you how we have shared and worked alongside global partners to improve safety for everyone.  If you would like to be part of our patient safety community please get in touch.

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