Spreading the patient safety message among healthcare staff is no small task. Not to mention, influencing those staff to be enthusiastic about using an online safety event management tool in addition to an already busy day caring for patients. But, that’s exactly what’s happening in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) as a result of a unique and special partnership between an inspired clinical leader and a technical expert.
Brenda Bailey, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Terri Aitken, Coordinator, have joined forces to promote the benefits of the Safety Learning System (SLS) as a tool to promote continuous learning, enhance communication and support overall improvement in patient safety and quality of care.
“What I love is that our Residential Care Coordinators truly believe in SLS as a quality improvement tool,” says Brenda. “They have embraced the system because they understand the value of the data and they know what’s really happening in their facilities with regards to patient safety. Terri has been instrumental with helping us to see that.”
With a passion for Gerontology and 15 years’ experience as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Brenda says her responsibility is to oversee the quality of clinical practice in eight residential care facilities along the coast from the North Shore to Powell River. A couple years ago she became interested in SLS, knowing that the system could help her to identify areas of care that needed improvement but, without a technical background, she knew she needed Terri’s in-depth knowledge of SLS.
“Terri came to our manager’s meeting to present about SLS,” says Brenda. “She explained what the various event review processes mean, what kind of data is available to us and how we can produce reports. The managers were so impressed and excited with what they saw they immediately went back to their facilities with a goal to reduce falls and medication events by 5%.”
Since then, Brenda and Terri have continued their dynamic partnership and worked together to demonstrate the value of reporting safety events in SLS and, more importantly, their efforts are working to build capacity and raise awareness within each residential care facility on the coast.
“Staff talk about safety now and the importance of completing their SLS reports,” says Brenda. “Residential clinical leaders post SLS data for discussion and to share ideas for how to reduce adverse events. That makes me very proud of the work Terri and I have done together. With Terri’s help we’ve been able to make SLS more visible and meaningful to our staff. Staff and managers want to use the LEAN breakthrough lanes with the SLS system to improve key safety areas such as falls and medication errors. Terri has again been able to help us with her expert knowledge of the SLS system. She is an amazing support to us!”
Both Brenda and Terri are quick to compliment the efforts of the other, which is a true reflection of the special bond they share. “It’s all about you, Brenda!” says Terri. Their combination of clinical and technical expertise is a great example of what can be achieved when two minds come together to focus on improving patient safety.
To say that speaking with Brenda is inspiring would be an understatement. She reflects a level of passion that is both forward-thinking and proactive while, at the same time, aware of the complexities of healthcare. “I know the challenges nurses have,” she says. “And, I know that SLS can help us to improve patient care and make our facilities safer. It’s current, practical, and extremely valuable to what we do.”
Brenda Bailey is Clinical Nurse Specialist and Terri Aitken is SLS Coordinator at Vancouver Coastal Health. SLS is Vancouver Coastal’s version of BC PSLS. To learn more about their unique partnership and mission to spread the patient safety message, please contact them by email Brenda.Bailey@vch.ca or Terri.Aitken@vch.ca