PLACE (Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment) Is Back on in St Barts NHS Trust.
One of the several bodies I am very proud to be a member of is the PLACE assessment scheme.
I have served on these teams for around 4 or 5 years now, and have seen with my own eyes how the recommendations made by a PLACE assessment one year is acted on when we return the following year.
Most of the thanks for this goes to the team co-ordinator. I would not like to have his workload, but somehow he keeps coming up trumps.
For those of you who are scratching your head, and are asking what the hell PLACE is, well here’s an abbreviated outline:
PLACE stands for Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment.
The aim of PLACE is to improve the patient’s experience in the hospital, and make life for patients more beareable.
Just how does PLACE happen?
It starts with the NHS Co-ordinator liaising with the hospitals throughout the St. Bartholomew’s Trust to set dates for the assessments. From this time on, he is the only one who knows the full agenda. The hospitals concerned will usually arrange for senior management to be made available for the assessments.
Although the hospitals will know which days we will be on site, no-one except the co-ordinator will have any idea of which assessors will be on which teams, or which wards and/or clinics the assessors will visit.
On the day of the assessment, everyone will congregate in a previously arranged meeting room. It is only at this point when we will know which team we will be on, who else is in that team, and which outdoor areas, wards or clinics they have been allocated.
On a large site like the Royal London Hospital, it can take up to a dozen teams over two days work.
Normally an assessment team will comprise of 2 or 3 PLACE experienced patients, a couple of lesser experienced patients, a Senior Manager of the Hospital (who is there to clear the path for us), a couple of hospital staff, and we would often have observers from other trusts or hospitals.
At the start of the assessment, each team allocate a patient team leader and an administrator, usually one of the hospital staff attached.
Each team will usually be allocated at least two zones for assessment on each day.
What are the teams looking for?
We look at all areas and services that patients can access, from the state of hygiene of the area, cleanliness, compliance with health and safety regulations, to actually watching the process of meal serving on wards, and food sampling.
On arriving at the area to assess, the team leader or accompanying manager will let the department be aware that we are about to carry out an assessment, inviting a senior member of the ward or clinic to accompany the team as a guide to advise on the service the ward/clinic provides, and ensuring the assessors avoid any contagious or dangerous patients or areas. This also helps in the event of the team identifying any major point which requires urgent attention, the ward are aware of the situation from the start.
Assessment teams will always allow areas to operate normally and will ensure that they use hand sterilizer on both entering any area and on leaving. Assessors will have shirts or jumpers rolled up so their arms are clear below the elbow.
As soon as the assessment of any area is completed, that team will use a small room or a quiet area to write up their findings. This is where each team administrator comes to the fore, and guides the team through the highly detailed and lengthy questionairre specially composed for that area. If there is an impasse on any decision on a matter, the patient team leader’s decision will override the impasse.
All teams usually return to our meeting room for lunch, provided by the hospitals catering provider, and then continue with the second session they have been allocated.
At the end of the day, all hospital and NHS employees will be asked to leave the meeting room, leaving the patient assessors free to discuss any pressures they may have had placed on them in making their decisions (if any).
One of the greatest compliments the PLACE teams can have is that they have now been asked to carry out PLACE assessments at hospitals outside of the St. Barts trust.
Over the next few months I will be blogging and photographing the PLACE assessments in action (not any confidention bits of course), so keep an eye on this site for updates.
For copies of PLACE documentation and details of previous PLACE assessments and results in the NHS, follow this link:
If you have any questions about PLACE, or you would like to join a PLACE assessment, please use the contact form below, and the appropriate person will call you back.