How we improved the waiting environment at our outpatient unit in Woking
Our Feel the Difference Fund, money available to frontline colleagues to develop ideas to improve the services we run and help everyone feel the difference, has allowed our Woking Community Hospital Outpatient Unit’s Team to create child-friendly activity packs which help improve the patient experience for people waiting for appointments at waiting area. We invested up to £1,000 through the fund to produce, design and implement the activity packs and deliver a difference to both children and adults we support.
Virgin Care has run Woking Community Hospital’s Outpatient Unit since 2012, as part of our Surrey Children and Adult’s contract, where we assess and treat issues such as eye problems, ear and throat infections, as well as skin complaints.
With children waiting varying times to be seen, we noticed they had limited entertainment to keep them occupied during their waits as shared toys could not be offered to help prevent the spread of infection. We observed that children started to become bored and irritable while waiting and it became clear we had to make the environment more pleasant for children.
Virgin Care invests and implements our colleague’s ideas through our internal Feel the Difference Fund (FDF), money available to frontline colleagues to develop ideas, however big or small, to improve the services we run and help everyone feel the difference. We’ve also created a network that shares ideas and listens to what everybody has to say.
In early 2016, we invested in a project led by our nurses at Woking Community Hospital to introduce an activity pack that would include puzzles and health promotion games to keep them entertained.
Research told us that an activity pack would be the most appropriate tool having seen other services provide similar puzzle activities suitable for adults to pass the time.
So that the activity packs would look as good as possible and have the right tone and design for children, we professionally designed them in-house using our Marketing Team’s skills to give the packs the Virgin Care edge, with bright Virgin colours that children would like.
We invested up to £1,000 through the fund to produce, design and introduce the packs to the service.
Colleagues can apply to the Feel the Difference fund for their projects which will improve the patient experience. A panel of their peers and subject matter experts decide on awards of money.
Limited available toys or other items to keep children waiting entertained
Virgin Care’s Outpatient Unit Woking Community Hospital is where children and adults are assessed and treated for things like eye issues, dermatological problems, Ear, Nose and Throat complaints, and other general issues.
To prevent the spread of infection we can’t use shared toys or other items to keep children waiting entertained and less bored or irritable as they wait varying times to be seen.
Our team noticed that this limited what we could offer to keep children occupied during their waits to help avoid children creating a noisy and unpleasant area for other people waiting.
It became clear we had to make the environment more pleasant for children with something that would not spread infection and was light-hearted and entertaining to help pass the time in a way that was safe for them and other children.
Bringing to life our colleagues’ idea for an activity pack for children
Our Feel the Difference Fund, money specifically reserved for frontline colleagues to make a difference to the service we deliver with their own ideas, allowed us to develop, design and implement an idea at our Woking Community Hospital Outpatient Unit.
The Team had seen that other NHS services were using activity packs for adults as light-hearted entertainment while they waited, and thought the theme could easily be transformed into a pack for children at our Outpatient Unit.
The team applied to Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference Fund for up to £1,000 to bring their idea for an activity pack for children, which would include puzzles and health promotion games, to life to help keep children waiting entertained.
Virgin Care set about making the activity packs look as good as possible and to ensure they had the right tone and design for children we supported subject matter experts to design the packs to give them Virgin Care edge, with bright Virgin colours that children would like.
We included age-appropriate puzzles such as spot the difference and word searches, as well as blank pages and crayons to let children doodle, all ideas that were facilitated by the team at the Woking service.
The booklet, of course, also helps children learn about falls, burns and road safety through spot the difference.
A great way to keep children occupied
The activity packs were introduced in early 2016 and initial feedback found the booklet was a great way to keep children occupied and the team from Woking have noticed that everyone in the waiting room is more relaxed.
From children and families to elderly patients and everyone in between, everyone visiting the Outpatient Unit is feeling the benefit of entertained children and a smoother experience overall.
We also tested at our other services at Farnham Hospital, Haslemere Hospital, Weybridge Hospital and Woking Walk in Centre.