A look at the agile working revolution at NELFT - Putting people first | News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway

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A look at the agile working revolution at NELFT - Putting people first

With around two thirds of NELFT staff now able to agile work and more being enabled daily, we took the opportunity to re-examine the programme and look at the benefits for staff, service users/patients and the organisation.

Paralympian Amy Marren officially opened the first agile ‘hub’ at Church Road in Harold Wood on 5 May 2016. Since then a further nine agile locations are online and available to book for staff members, with four more due to be available soon. The Trust has also issued around 4,350 laptops to help staff work in an agile manner.

NELFT's HQ at CEME houses over 70 agile workspaces, six training rooms, seven meeting rooms and the boardroom. Our executive directors and leadership teams have also embraced agile working. They no longer have their own offices and utilise the open plan workplaces, meeting pods and shared facilities. The building was first used by NELFT staff in November 2016 and officially opened by Roy Lilley and the Mayors of our four London boroughs in February 2017.

(Pictured above are Gbemi Falode (right) from Barking and Dagenham 0-19 Universal Children’s Services with a new mother and her child)

ceme opening
(Pictured are: (L-R) NELFT Chief Executive John Brouder, Roy Lilley, Councillor Philippa Crowder and NELFT Chair Joe Fielder)

John Brouder, chief executive, said: “Being an agile worker is important for me as a leader, not just to be a positive role model - but also to enable me to work more closely with staff across the Trust. I can work from any base and be more accessible to our staff. Working in an agile way allows all of us to use our time and resources more effectively.”

To find out more about the roll out of agile devices to the localities, we spoke to Stephen Singh-Khakian (pictured below), who is a Clinical Agile Relationship Manager, about the successes of the agile working programme, hear examples of how patients are benefitting and what plans there are for the future.

The agile working programme has been a huge success – with around 4,000 staff members able to work agilely. Has the success taken you by surprise?

The programme is a planned incremental, service-led plan. There were some quick wins in the transformation milestones within some of the services and that was a surprise. District Nurses really found Cisco Jabber connections useful.

The key behind the success of the programme so far has been the focus on continual Training and Transformation. We want users to feel confident in using these devices and therefore we are offering training three days a week - capturing up to 180 users per month.

The Transformation has been structured and targeted based on the request from ICDs, therefore with this engagement we have been able to make suggestions and implement change in services which have allowed the staff and service users to see the benefits of having a device during clinical contact.

What have been the benefits for staff members?

A key benefit has been having both RIO trainers and transformation leads working closely with teams for a set time of 12–16 weeks. Staff have been at different levels of ability and the transformation team have enabled the ‘novice to expert’ journey using coaching techniques.

Having a clinician in the team has allowed a steer on what professional guidance might allow and what is possible - while also challenging some of the hurdles that have been put in our way throughout the process.

The short time-frame has encouraged a move to change and the finite period has meant a structured move to agile working with informatics and clinical support.

Learning from across the business has enabled a cross fertilisation of methods that have improved efficiency and worked well for staff.

Stephen Singh-Khakian
As well as staff members benefitting, what have been the advantages for patients/service users?

Patient safety has been increased by having a total health record available at the point of care. Coordinated care is now delivered as different health professionals can see what other teams have planned as care.

As an example, patients with diabetic foot problems can now see that the nurses dressing the wounds have direct access to the podiatrist advice and plan. It also helps the podiatrist to see when dressings were changed and adjuncts to wound healing have been added by specialist tissue viability nurses. There are a host of other examples as you can imagine…

Data Quality within the EPR systems has also improved. We have seen an increase in the recording against each of the protected characteristics in comparison to 2016. A direct link can be made to staff now being able to capture and update this during the clinical contact.

Recording of First Language has increased by 10% which roughly equates to 100,000 records having been updated.

How has agile working helped NELFT as an organisation?

NELFT has benefitted as agile working allows the team to offer a high fidelity to our values, giving the best care by being the best people – equipped with comprehensive information about our service users.

Patient Safety and Quality is increased as a result of seeing patients’ blood results and appointment letters uploaded into the patient record. Information increases patient satisfaction too.

Agile working has enabled staff to effectively work from anywhere, where possible this has meant staff are able to spend more time in the community seeing patients. In some cases, starting their working day from home and heading straight to a clinical contact rather than coming to an office base.

With this in mind the organisation is now able to look to rationalise their estate to meet service requirements, with the push on more bookable shared desk and room space.

As an organisation, it has allowed us to be competitive when tendering for new services. With the recent Kent acquisition we were able to mobilise 400 staff within a month, these users are now able to work from their existing premises with the use of a device, softphone headset and agile workstation.

What are the plans for the future – how do you see the agile working programme in five years’ time?

From a clinical perspective the focus will be to continue on Service Delivery/Transformation and supporting our users to capture data and complete the Electronic Patient Record. Using various data/technologies to support the delivery of services in the most efficient way, while mobilising new business and supporting the wider ICT Strategy in relation to GDPR and NHS Paperless by 2020.

The use of devices at the point of care will continue to grow and become the norm for staff.  Technology is an evolving entity and this in itself will bring its own challenges, wearable technologies, virtual consultations and single shared care record. These are all exciting possibilities for the years to come.

Thanks to Stephen for his time and we look forward to hearing more about the exciting agile working roll out to further locations over the coming months.