In our latest blog, Leanne Marshall-Wood explains what she enjoys about the role of improvement advisor and what her typical week might look like. She explains how variety, plus making a difference, are at the centre of each working week.

I’m a people person. Without a doubt that’s a vital requirement to be an improvement advisor with Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Building relationships with teams and individuals in NHS boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) all over Scotland is a key part of what we do. It’s those relationships that become the foundation to bring about the improvements to the care that people receive, whether in NHS or social care settings.

So without a doubt the best thing for me about the job is the amount of different people I get to work with and to see how the building of effective relationships leads to vital changes that make a difference for real people.

My own improvement journey

Where I am now in my career is because of where I started out.

I’ve worked in NHS Scotland since 2009. In fact, I started my career in this organisation as an admin officer in what was then known as the Scottish Patient Safety Programme. The organisation supported and encouraged me to grow and develop. I became a project officer for our organisation’s work to support improvements in primary care, before moving to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to become an improvement coordinator.

So when I saw that Healthcare Improvement Scotland were advertising for an improvement advisor in the Living Well in Communities team, I immediately wanted to apply and go back to where my own improvement journey began! 

Making a difference

At the moment I’m working on the Hospital at Home programme, which supports NHS boards and HSCPs across Scotland to develop and deliver Hospital at Home services. This has been a rewarding programme to be part of, as it provides an opportunity for people to be treated in their own home where possible, which is important to people at all times, but especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing that the support your team provides has contributed to the development of Hospital at Home across Scotland gives a real sense of achievement that your working day has made a real difference. It’s great speaking to teams about their services and how they might improve – every single person we work with is so passionate about the role of Hospital at Home and the difference it makes to patients, and its brilliant being able to share that message.

Getting into the detail

There are lots of opportunities to get involved in different things across the Improvement hub (ihub), which is the main part of our organisation where improvement advisors work and where the improvement programmes take place. The ihub is a really friendly directorate, and I’ve met lots of  colleagues I don’t normally work with on a day-to-day basis – even since we’ve been working in a much more virtual way as a consequence of the pandemic.

My role is varied – so if that’s something that you like, then this is a great role to have. There isn’t really such a thing as an average week for me!

As an idea of what the role involves, here are some of the activities I’ve been involved in over the past week:

  • Delivery of online quality improvement training: a priority across Healthcare Improvement Scotland is to ensure as many staff as possible have a foundation level understanding of quality improvement. I am lucky enough to be part of the group that are delivering this training to a wide range of staff across the organisation.
  • Hospital at Home: A large part of my week has been spent meeting with the teams who are developing and delivering Hospital at Home services across NHS Scotland. The format of this varies from team to team, and can be anything from being part of a steering group, facilitating process mapping and stakeholder engagement sessions, or regular catch-ups with teams to discuss progress, any challenges and provide any support I can.
  • Delivery of a national learning system: one of the key elements of the Hospital at Home work is the delivery of a learning system to share learning, good practice and challenges. This includes planning and hosting networking sessions and drop in sessions, building and facilitating an online community for Hospital at Home teams, developing and sharing resources and planning and recording a series of podcasts. This is one of my favourite parts of my current role.
  • Developing a national infrastructure for Hospital at Home: this involves providing a measurement toolkit to teams to share activity on services while working with other national organisations to provide a sustainable process for this in the future, and working with colleagues across Scotland to address challenges around workforce, including competency frameworks and training requirements.

All in all, a varied, busy role with a great deal of personal satisfaction at its heart. But most importantly of all, I get to do it in a brilliant team and in an organisation that has always supported me to grow and to improve – I get the chance to improve as well as helping others to improve. It’s a perfect combination.

Leanne Marshall-Wood is an Improvement Advisor with Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

More information

To find out more about Hospital At Home, visit: https://ihub.scot/project-toolkits/hospital-at-home/hospital-at-home/