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This week, 25 different clinical areas at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) learnt that you don’t need to walk a mile in a patient’s shoes to understand how to make them feel safe and welcome, 15 steps are enough.
As part of the international ‘15 Steps Challenge’, small teams of patients, staff and volunteers, visited clinical areas to give structured feedback about their first impressions, including what was working well and what could be improved.
Planetree* Coordinator Anna Greig said the Challenge focused on seeing care through a patient or carer’s eyes, and exploring their views on if the area was welcoming, safe, caring and involving, and well-organised and calm.
“This project wasn’t about critiquing, but rather to provide insight into how our patients and carers may experience an environment that we relate to in a completely different way as staff members,” she said.
“Does the ward feel calm or chaotic? Is the space an uncluttered, clean environment? Is there environment welcoming? These are all things that people see and affects their judgement on how they – or their loved ones – will be cared for.”
Heart Recovery Service Clinical Nurse Joanne Pickering said the experience highlighted how important first impressions were in healthcare.
“The feedback we got reminded us that we can’t expect our patients to instantly trust us and have faith they’re in safe hands, we have to show it through our actions from the very first moment,” she said.
“It’s also about so much more than our interactions. We need to look at the whole space, for example is the information on the walls relevant and useful.”
Ms Greig said PAH hoped to do the challenge in more areas later in the year.
“Understanding how patients feel when they step into a ward or clinic can only truly be achieved by looking through their eyes,” she said.
*Planetree is an international program that recognises excellence in person-centred care. It is based on the philosophy that healthcare professionals should care for people as individuals, and recognise all their needs—not just clinical symptoms.