At Our Best
In 2011, to aid promoting its vision, the Trust started a programme called At Our Best.
Explore this page to see how it has developed over the years.
These behaviours were developed by our patients and staff over many years. They describe clear expectations of how we behave with patients and each other, to deliver high quality care.
- Caring: We are welcoming, We are kind
- Communication: We are involving, We are responsive
- Consistency: We are safe, We are the difference.
They continue to shape:
- The way we behave with patients and each other
- How we recruit, induct, appraise and develop staff
- How we measure and improve people's experience
- The things we notice and appreciate each other for.
Download the A4 doublesided behaviours leaflet.
Looking for the new Commendations scheme?
Updated 21 September 2015
What evidence is there for all of this? Read all of the references about Impact of patient and staff experience on quality in healthcare.
Following the At Our Best Leadership Masterclasses and Vision Workshops in June (see below) new life was breathed into the At Our Best values and behaviours.
These are outlined on key chains being distributed by the Executive Directors to every member of staff. They are reminders of the good practices that we (staff) can all adopt to make our work safer and more supportive of each other. It will fit easily onto a lanyard or a pocket.
The cards remind us about our continuing values of Caring, Communication and Consistency. They show us how our services match up to the CQC domains and what they measure.
We owe it to every patient to deliver safe, effective and personal healthcare every time. These cards remind us of that obligation.
At Our Best behaviours were futher developed by our patients and staff in 2015. They describe clear expectations of how we behave with patients and each other, to deliver high quality care.
The Executive Team - that is the divisional (clinical) directors and the executive directors - want to support all staff to provide the quality of care we all aspire to and which patients expect and deserve. Evidence shows that hospitals with staff who are engaged in their work provide higher quality, safer care. But our staff rate their engagement levels as amongst the lowest in the NHS.
So in June, about 600 leaders from across the Trust participated in an inspiring and energising interactive day of insight, discussion and engagement - the one day Leadership Masterclass - while a further 380 members of staff attended the interactive Vision workshops. Divisional and executive directors took on a role at the workshops, which were designed to shape our positive future together, by breathing new life into the At Our Best values and behaviours...
At these sessions, hundreds of staff gave examples of the contributory factors of what they thought made a good or bad day at work. These were turned into commitments by those staff to do something about it, and then drawn together into a graphic to show all staff the simple actions they can take to overcome a bad day and make it a good one.
At these sessions, there was a big emphasis for all staff to speak up and to never walk by when someone is unsafe, lonely, is in pain, is confused or is being bullied. Pledge sheets were signed by attendees to strengthen the commitment. Over 1,000 staff (and this is rising) have signed the pledge to never walk by. The overwhelming response to the signed pledges is an important first step towards establishing a safe, empowering and supportive environment for patients and staff alike.
Visit I pledge to speak up.
The feedback so far* from these sessions shows a shared vision for the Trust that highlights "caring" as the most frequently cited word from staff participating in the sessions. This will inform the shaping of the Trust's vision, ensuring that what emerges from these discussions reflects the majority view of our staff.
The Leadership Masterclass sessions, the Vision workshops and the reinvigoration of the At Our Best values and behaviours has provided invaluable insight to address some of the key staff morale issues and concerns reflected in the staff survey data and has heightened the awareness of the senior leaders in the organisation of the importance of positive feedback, teamwork and a supportive environment to lift staff morale.
At Our Best started by listening to hundreds of patients and colleagues who wanted us to make a commitment to our patients, their families and to each other, to be 'at our best'. They said when we are 'at our best' we can be welcoming, kind, involving, responsive and professional. They asked that we don't just try to make a difference, but to be the difference ourselves.
That's why as an organisation, as teams and as individuals, we are committing to these service standards - to everyone we work with, every day - so we can be consistently 'at our best'.
We know that IT'S UP TO US to make this difference.
* We have scheduled a further 13 "all staff workshops" in September providing an opportunity for more staff to develop a vision to help us get back to being 'at our best' consistently. Read more on the intranet (staff access only).
We ran two sets of events for our staff in June 2015.
Nine "all staff workshops" for 380 staff to set out a vision to help us get back to being 'at our best' consistently.
We also invited every one of our leaders - 656 people - to take part in a Leadership Masterclass.
Why? Because evidence shows that hospitals with staff who are engaged in their work provide higher quality, safer care.
You can read more on pages 8 and 9 of the May edition of Mainstream (pictured below).
Staff can also find out more on our intranet.
* One smile can make you feel a million dollars.
The launch of our behaviour standards and values came in October 2011 (see below). Over 500 members of staff were involved in creating the standards - caring, communication, consistency - with their underlying actions.
During 2014, these were refreshed using the results of the Engaging into Action survey (see October 2014 Mainstream) which more than 1,000 staff contributed to in 2014.
The themes have been turned into patient-facing and peer-facing behaviours (see diagram).
By adhering to these values, At Our Best helps the Trust deliver its strategic priorities and vision. They also link to the NHS Leadership Academy's Healthcare Leadership Model and to the Knowledge and Skills Framework.
All of the behaviours identified are represented across the At Our Best model and we intend to invite staff from all of the divisions to get involved in re-visiting what At Our Best looks like in their own areas. This will take place as part of Engaging into Action feedback.
The At Our Best Awards will continue with awards for both patient and peer facing behaviours. The In Your Shoes sessions (see below) with patients and service users will continue but will involve a communication of our new peer-facing behaviours to attendees.
The new model retains the original At Our Best Values and extends the reach - do make sure you embody them everyday.
In 2012, we dramatically improved the experience our patients had in our care - moving up from 147th to 73rd place in the national inpatient survey . The At Our Best programme has been a key part of this success, but there was still room for improvement. In 2013 we refreshed our approach by taking the campaign further, with "At Our Best everyone everywhere". The objectives were twofold:
- keep improving our patient experience - not just in pockets but for everyone, everywhere
- do this by focusing on the experience staff have of working at the Trust, so people feel they are supported to deliver high quality care.
We have listened and made a difference. Patient feedback has been very positive and since 2011, patients have told our Trust that more patients know who to contact if they are worried about their condition, fewer patients are bothered by noise at night on wards, there are more nurses on duty and patients feel more involved in decisions about their care.
The At Our Best summer 2012 campaign - "We are listening" - asked every staff member across all of the Trust to focus on the following behaviours:
- being welcoming
- being involving
- being responsive
- being professional.
To ensure patients feel confident about the care they receive...
- we will treat patients as individuals by making them feel welcome
- we will not talk over patients as if they are not present
- we will wear name badges at all times so patients know who staff are.
To build trust and feel in control, patients must be kept informed. Therefore, we will...
- tell patients what is happening with their care and treatment
- provide written information that is easy to understand
- avoid using jargon
Meeting the needs of our patients is our main priority. Therefore, we will...
- ask patients if they have any special requirements
- ensure staff are visible and approachable so patients know who to speak to.
Patients need to have confidence in staff caring for them. Therefore, we will...
- look smart and professional
- adhere to Trust dress codes at all times
- remember we are 'on stage' whilst at work.
The campaign launched in July 2012 and was supported with walk rounds by executive directors and non-executive directors, as well as with posters and banners. The aim was to focus staff, including all new starters such as junior doctors, on the importance of being at our best.
Download a poster highlighting each of the main campaign messages:
Read the Mainstream article (pages 8-9)
Some of the Neonatal team at Colchester General Hospital
The Trust launched its At Our Best Awards in October 2011 to recognise staff achievements and thank them for what they do.
Enter online today by clicking here!
Read some more details on how to enter the next Awards, including posters and paper entry forms, and deadlines for each round.
The next stage of the programme was the launch of our Trust's behaviour standards and values.
At Our Best is a programme to inspire, support and develop all of our staff to consistently deliver the very best patient experience.
But it isn't just a programme about patients. It is also one that wants to inspire staff and to listen to their concerns.
Over 500 members of staff were involved in creating the Trust's behaviour standards and values. The three themes - caring, communication, consistency - have key actions underlying them.
Click to show promises in a new window.
We will be caring, welcoming, respectful and kind. We will communicate clearly, keep you informed and be responsive to your individual needs. We will give you a consistently professional and safe service, to make a difference to you and your health.
- The Trust gave a small credit-card size leaflet to all staff which highlighted the pledges to ensure patients get the very best treatment and experience at our hospitals
- Banners promoting these promises were displayed across our sites at Colchester, Clacton and Harwich
- A3 posters promoting these promises were displayed widely too
- Lastly, a newsletter was distributed widely to all Trust staff.
Download the At Our Best newsletter, Autumn 2011
Download the Trust's behaviour standards and values A3 poster October 2011
One of the programme's key components is to encourage better communication with patients.
To achieve this, more than 100 patients and carers were invited to share their experiences with over 100 staff of all disciplines at five In Your Shoes sessions held in April, May and June (see below).
The outcome was four priorities - see the left hand panel of this poster - which are now being targeted by the Board of Directors.
Director of Nursing and Patient Experience Julie Firth said: "We wanted to capture all aspects of the patient experience - not only the clinical ones - because we want to provide the best possible customer care.
"As a response to the In Your Shoes sessions, in July we have launched a We Care campaign - see this poster - for all teams, to address the top priorities of our Trust's patients."
Staff are the focus of another aspect of the At Our Best programme. Through graffiti boards placed in hospital corridors, staff they were asked what great care looks like. A total of 500 people wrote down their views - see the right hand panel of this poster.
In response, Director of Workforce Rob Bowman said: "We have been listening and acting on concerns raised by staff. We now have a proactive campaign to fill key vacancies - for example, we are advertising for 30 nursing posts to fill existing vacancies. We have also invested £100,000 in new wheelchairs, drip stands, and other equipment."
At Our Best started with listening to hundreds of patients and staff who want the Trust to make a commitment to its patients, their families and to each other: to be "at our best". In October, the Trust will launch a set of organisation behaviour standards and values developed from the At Our Best programme.
In April 2011 we asked our public members to share their views with us:
"Are you a patient (or carer of someone) who has been to Colchester General Hospital or Essex County Hospital within the past 12 months?
"Would you like to share your patient experience with us - good, bad or indifferent?
"We would like to hear your views about what you think was good and what you felt needed improving. We want to be "at our best" all the time, so please come along to an In Your Shoes session.
"You will have the opportunity to meet nurses, doctors, managers and other healthcare staff and tell them about your real life experiences, individually and in groups.
"Each session will last about two hours and involve approximately 20 patients and 20 healthcare staff.
"Parking will be paid for by the Trust and refreshments provided.
"You can register to attend any session, regardless of where you received your treatment.
"To find out more, send an email to: AtOur.Best@colchesterhospital.nhs.uk."
Since 2011 we have held many more In Your Shoes sessions.