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Better Outpatients: the story so far… 18/12/2009

Older patients and their carers have shared their stories of using the outpatient service beginning with their first contact with the hospital (be it an appointment letter or an automated phone call), and including their experiences of getting to and from the hospital as well as their time within it. Hospital staff have also shared what it is like working within outpatients and the other connected services (such as Yorkshire Ambulance). Patients, carers and staff shared their experiences with each other and then together worked out the aspects of the outpatients service that are good (and should be maintained) and the aspects that could be improved.

Things that are good:

  • Ambulance services;
  • The ambulance waiting lounge;
  • The friendliness and ‘human’ quality of staff;
  • Regular staff get to know regular patients.

The stories people shared demonstrated that older people have difficulties using the outpatient services in two broad areas:

Getting to outpatients

Older people are uncertain about what to expect during their outpatient visit: where to go, what to bring, and how long it will take. This pre-visit information should be clear in appointment letters and phone calls.

The scheduling of appointments and ambulance transport often means early starts, long waits and a whole day away from home. Are there ways that this scheduling could better match people’s lives?

Arriving at outpatients

A road, at the bottom of outpatients, is a confusing and congested place. Navigating it on foot, or finding somewhere to park, or dropping someone off is difficult. How could this area be better used?

Inside the building, at the main A floor entrance and the Medical Outpatients entrance, there is further confusion. Where do you go for help and directions now that the A floor reception desk has closed? How might welcomers and better signage help?

Designing Together

Two mixed groups of patients and staff have begun thinking about these areas, finding out more information, and developing improvements. This has included:

  • Re-designing the appointment letters;
  • Mapping how the current appointment and transport scheduling system works;
  • Doing a ‘mystery patient’ visit to find out more about the outpatient service;
  • Trialing a ‘help point’ service and drop-off waiting area run by the welcomers;
  • Conducting a survey of directions given to people in outpatients before and after the ‘help point’.

Next, they will work out which are the ‘quick win’ improvements we will make now and which are larger improvements that we will propose the hospital makes. To do this, we will do more than describe the problems; we will also design some better ways of doing things such as signage and parking.

Project updates

BOSOP poster presented at the Professional Services Quality Initiative event
The poster looks at the experiences of 'seldom heard' older people when accessing Medical Outpatients.

Final BOSOP management meeting
This group met to hear about experiences of using outpatients from older people in Sheffield's Pakistani community and older people living in care homes (and their carers).

Better Outpatients: DVD launch
The BOSOP corporate event celebrated the end of the project and launched the 'Outpatients; older peoples stories' DVD.

Better Outpatients: what next?
As BOSOP reaches it's 'official' end here's a brief look at what we've acheived and what happens next.

Better Outpatients: the story so far...
The BOSOP project is now well underway. Here we introduce you to the project and tell you the story so far.

Project downloads

Short Paper at the Participatory Design Conference 2010
UCHD will be presenting a short paper at the Participatory Design Conference 2010 in Sydney.

Journal paper: Design-Led Service Improvement for Older People
UCHD have had a paper published in the Australasian Medical Journal (AMJ).

'A' Road Proposal
A proposal for 'A' Road layout at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield to improve patient experience.

New appointment letter
New appointment letter designed by patients and staff.