So you're doing a QI Project...?
Many of us have been involved in a quality improvement (QI) project at some point. This project is likely to have reported data and outcomes, particularly the benefits to patients. But did it mention sustainability and the impact on the environment? Did you think about it but didn’t know how to embed those ideas? We want to encourage all SLTs, in all departments, to start thinking about embedding sustainability into all of their work, including their QI projects. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is a great place to start to learn more about integrating sustainability into quality improvement or 'susqi': https://sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/susqi.
It's likely that many of the outcomes of your QI projects will already have a positive impact on the environment. Let’s think about it. Your project reduces waiting times, which leads to earlier identification and intervention which prevents longer term demand for services. This is preventing disease by tackling the cause of illnesses and inequality. This is more sustainable.
Have you streamlined a process so that the work is less stressful or time consuming leading to less staff and colleague burnout? This is lean service delivery leading to less waste. This is more sustainable.
Have you re-started or developed a parent or patient education programme? This is encouraging patient self-care and empowering service users to have a greater role in managing their own health and care. This is more sustainable.
Have you reduced your work mileage? This is a lower carbon alternative way of delivering care. This is more sustainable.
Writing statements in your QI projects acknowledging that your project has had a positive environmental outcome raises the profile of your project and service and acknowledges that you understand that the climate emergency is a health emergency. The SusQI framework, which is explained in the CSH link above, helps us think about how we’re delivering the best possible health outcomes at the minimum financial and environmental cost with maximum social and environmental value. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can put a statement to acknowledge that your lean service delivery is more sustainable or provide data on the number of business miles you’ve saved in your next QI project report. You could even try an online carbon calculator. Whichever way we start to talk about and embed sustainability into our work, it’s important that we start and learn from each other. So, if you have already got a great example of or idea about embedding sustainability into your QI project, please get in touch and share your story or top tips and join the conversation!