We know that people have ideas for innovations and improvements all the time. However sometimes it can be difficult to progress an idea because it needs some money to make it happen or prove that it is a worthwhile thing to do. As part of our drive to encourage and support innovation and improvement, we launched The Innovation & Improvement Fund with the aim of helping to support those ideas by providing some funding to help make them a reality.
What We Did
We know that people have ideas for innovations and improvements all the time. However sometimes it can be difficult to progress an idea because it needs some money to make it happen or prove that it is a worthwhile thing to do.
As part of our drive to encourage and support innovation and improvement, we launched The Innovation & Improvement Fund with the aim of helping to support those ideas by providing some funding to help make them a reality.
The Fund is about providing funding to test ideas out and allow ‘proof of concept’ for potentially taking an idea into the mainstream and provides financial support to all types of innovation or improvement, with the only stipulations being that an idea must contribute to one of four improvement areas shown below:
• Improved service user, carer or staff experiences
• Improved safety
• Increased value
• Better partnership working
Awards from the Fund are made by a Panel made up of staff from across the organisation – all roles and grades, clinical and corporate – and a service user and carer. Everyone has self-selected to be involved in this Panel and meetings are held monthly.
The Panel is chaired by an Executive Director but the decision making is robustly collaborative and egalitarian within the framework that has been outlined.
There is no upper limit to Innovation & Improvement Fund awards – the Panel can make awards up to £25,000 and requests above that figure will be considered by the Executive Team and will require a formal business case (to satisfy relevant financial procedures).
Applications are made on a short (one page A4) template. This concentrates peoples thinking to describe their idea and ensures that Panel members are not impacted by having to read pages and pages for each submission prior to a Panel.
All awards are made on a one off, non-recurrent funding basis and the Panel takes a positive approach to requests and makes awards to both ideas that have an immediately quantifiable benefit and to those where the funding will enable that idea to be progressed, tested and evaluated.
Once an award has been made, the funds are transferred to the idea originators service budget within 48 hours so that they can ‘get going’ on making their idea happen.
Although there is no specific joint working for the Innovation & Improvement Panel, we have seen ideas come through that are about joint working. Better partnership working is one of the areas the Fund will support.
We set ourselves the clear remit of having service user and carer involvement in the Panel and the decision making from the outset. Panels cannot be held unless there is representation from both.
We believe that there is significant value in the co-production / joint working between the various roles of the people who make up the Panel, particular in the discussion and challenge that comes when there is a diverse mix of perspectives in the room, from clinical to corporate to service user and carer.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
Our reflection has been that there were very few challenges in establishing the Panel, gaining Panel membership and for people to submit ideas.
However, what we have found is that once the funding has been approved and the monies distributed, there can be difficulties in people’s ability to execute the change required.
We are using our Quality Improvement approaches and emergent improvement culture to begin to address this and are able to help people with advice and guidance and suggestions for taking their ideas forward through our dedicated internal website.
The funding for the Innovation & Improvement Fund is being made possible through the re-purposing of a portion of our Cash Releasing Efficiency Savings.
Our view is that investing in ideas to improve what we do and how we do it is likely to generate efficiencies at some point in the future and so this is an investment that is worthwhile making. (This is on top of the actual benefits through the idea – an enhanced service user experience, better service user safety etc.)
The Fund also acts as a catalyst for peoples creative thinking and a more general drive towards making improvement which contributes to developing our ‘improvement culture’ and establishing working practices that have improvement thinking at their core, thus helping to sustain ongoing improvements to practice, service delivery etc.
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
An evaluation has not been conducted.
The Panel has lowered barriers to people getting their ideas heard and taken forward. They are able to quickly and easily submit their idea and get an answer within a maximum of 4 weeks. Once an idea has been approved there is follow up to ensure it is being progressed and support and advice given where required.
There is also a buzz around panel members teams about improving as the Panel members themselves act as champions for innovation and improvement.
Finally, there have been tangible improvements to the service delivery and critically to those people who use our services.
• Creation and trialling of a ‘living well with dementia kit’ allowing demonstration of examples of potentially helpful products that service users can then purchase themselves through various suppliers
• Implementing a web based systemic outcome measurement tool across all learning disability services allowing the measurement of the impact and outcomes of our interventions and collaboration with partner agencies
• Creation of a temporary interactive display that highlights the typical weekly food intake of an inpatient and the excess weight gain from this diet with an aim to raise awareness and reduce service user weight gains
• Increasing physical health, wellbeing, inclusion and general activeness through providing service users with pedometers and setting ‘challenges’, together with an interactive ‘cardio wall’
• Production of specific “Think delirium” information material for A&E healthcare staff and service users / carers to help raise awareness of symptoms and causes and management / treatment strategies for current and future care (this is for our Rapid Assessment Interface and Discharge (RAID) service located in the two A&E departments in Hertfordshire)
We have not yet shared this work but are fully committed to sharing our practice with anyone who has an interest in what we have been doing.
Is there any other information you would like to add?
The Panel can make awards across any / all of the service user groups that we provide for as well as carers and staff improvements as well.