Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 40

When staff look at care issues from the patient perspective it offers a means of delivering sustained progress by getting '1 per cent better at a thousand things'. This is the guiding principle behind Derby Hospitals foundation trust's Choices programme.

With the help of Echelon Learning, training and development manager Cate Hollinshead has developed a package that brings together the insights of employees and service users and aims to generate ideas to improve services.

The creative process emerges at a series of 'Ideas cafés' - a hybrid of development session and focus group. These have been held for multi-departmental staff groups as well as patients and service users.

More than 3,000 staff have attended sessions. To help keep the focus on customer care issues and to stimulate discussion, videos are shown depicting patient concerns.

The staff forums also help to iron out inter-departmental tensions by offering insights into the pressures that colleagues work under.

Patients have had the twofold satisfaction of contributing to this process and benefiting from the outcomes. Surveys show that patients are already noticing the improvements.

Ideas have included a park and ride scheme from local shopping centres; eyeshade and earplug packs to help patients sleep; coloured food trays for patients in need of help with feeding; and survival packs of food essentials for patients returning to an empty house.

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