Case study: Family Echo – engaging staff to improve service delivery and patient experience
Family Echo is the name local staff gave to the Clever Together Challenges implemented by three NHS Trusts in the North West of England. Feedback from staff and leaders reveal this process:
- captured hard to reach intelligence and insight regarding families’ needs – present and future;
- converted these needs into implementable, well-supported service improvement plans, faster than if they’d used more traditional methods – without requiring staff to attend long meetings and workshops; and
- was considered highly successful by 90% of participants and something they would like to repeat at least bi-annually within their Trusts.
Staff from across the North West share their insights and feedback about Family Echo in the video below:
Early in 2012, Clever Together worked with the North West Strategic Health Authority to design and deliver Clever Together Challenges with the Health Visiting teams of Bridgewater, East Cheshire and Lancashire Care NHS Trusts.
A common challenge was defined by the leaders of each Trust: to inform the service improvement plans needed to deliver the Health Visitor Implementation Plan (as envisioned by the Department of Health) by gathering feedback and insight from staff regarding their families’ needs.
Engaging front-line staff was essential to the success of this process, yet doing this effectively for their busy, large, geographically dispersed workforces was prohibitively expensive for the Trusts. Each Clever Together Challenge established a channel for staff to echo the voice and experience of their families back to the organisation.
Following staff consultation the Clever Together Challenge was branded locally as Family Echo.
Family Echo: Actions Taken
Clever Together worked with each of the Trusts over the period of 5 weeks to:
- design bespoke three-week communication campaigns to engage Health Visiting staff;
- tailor its web-technologies to suit local needs and skill levels (Figure 1 presents a screenshot of the customer web-platform deployed for the three Trusts, with a specific focus on simplicity and ease of use);
- customise its analytical process to enable a rapid, meaningful analysis of staff inputs that would create valuable actionable outputs.
Figure 1: A screen shot of the Family Echo web-platform
Each live Family Echo campaign ran for 3 weeks, providing all invited staff the opportunity to echo back insights about family experience at any time, from any internet connected computer, all anonymously.
The three campaigns collectively invited 882 people to take part from an area covering more than 1,000 square miles.
All contributions were analysed within two weeks through the lenses of Patient Experience and the NHS QIPP agenda – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – to ensure actionable outputs.
Family Echo: Achievements
In a period of just 3 weeks, the three live Family Echo campaigns had collectively:
- attracted 432 visitors – nearly half of all invited staff;
- created 234 active participants, distributed across the entire 1,000 square miles; and
- captured 2,040 ideas, comments and votes focused upon providing more family-centred service improvements.
Ideas, comments and votes revealed a set of high-priority initiatives for each Trust. These initiatives included:
- quick wins – initiatives that could be implemented right away with a clear benefit for family experience;
- initiatives that link to and support the strategy of the Trust; and
- new initiatives that require further consideration.
Analysis of the ideas, comments and votes revealed:
- top rated ideas are as likely to come from the quiet majority as they are to come from the vocal minority (Figure 2) – this suggests a meritocracy had been created where the value of ideas is more important than who is sharing them;
- the most supported ideas in each Trust could be developed into actionable implementation plans; and
- Family Echo had enabled each Trust to create a network of individuals who have shown their support for each idea and are keen to act as change agents to support their delivery.
This means that ideas shared during Family Echo are much more likely to result in real changes to the organisation and real improvements in the experience of families, sooner.
Figure 2: Sources of top ideas – The power of the quiet majority
Family Echo: Feedback and Learning
Post-implementation interviews revealed the following typical feedback:
“Health Visitors as one profession within the NHS very clearly want to be heard …. one said to me that Family Echo had been the most impactful thing that she had ever experienced in terms of listening in the 20 years she’d been in service.”
Adrian Hackney, NHS North West
“We have a written action plan now…. Without the Echo we wouldn’t have been anywhere near where we are.”
Andrea Johns, East Cheshire NHS Trust
“The results from [Family Echo] are helping to determine our new business plan to move our service forward.”
Isobel Walton, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
“A really good way of getting staff engaged without having to think about getting them all together, especially as we work across a big geographical area.”
Nicola Monaghan, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust
“An exciting, innovative way to get the majority of staff views without taking time out of our busy days working with clients.”
Health Visitor, East Cheshire Trust
The Family Echo was rated by 90% of surveyed participants as highly successful and something they would like to repeat at least bi-annually within their trusts.
 Based upon survey data collected at a review event hosted by the North West Strategic Health Authority.