Learning from Excellence - Appreciating People

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Case Study Summary
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Overview summary:
For three years now, dedicated staff in Birmingham Children’s Hospital have been using Appreciative Inquiry as the method for a programme called Learning from Excellence, and the WMAHSN has had such good reports of their work and such interest from its members that they have decided to support its rollout across the region.
Challenge identified and actions taken :
We all have a strong tendency to reflect on things that haven’t worked well, but Appreciative Inquiry helps us understand that we can learn much more from things that go well. It’s an idea that’s catching on in the mainstream, too. Increasingly, it’s an idea being used in sports psychology, where teams who review their good performance are shown to improve more than teams who review the things that didn’t go well.

Traditionally, safety in healthcare has focused on avoiding harm by learning from error, but this approach may miss opportunities to learn from excellent practice. Excellence in healthcare is highly prevalent, but there is no formal system to capture it.
Impacts / outcomes:
When we learn from our good practice, morale and resilience is improved and our psyche is in a better position to learn. It’s called Learning from Excellence.

A series of introductory talks have ran called Where did it all go right? and then asked interested people to sign up for a two-day AI training course run by Appreciating People. We’ve been asked to provide five of these two-day courses, and they’ve all been fully booked. The participants on them have been amazing – dedicated, talented and really interested in using Appreciative Inquiry to take another approach to learning and enhancing safety.

The participants we worked with at WMAHSN really responded to using AI to create positive education, and work on their Quality Improvement. It helped them build resilience, as they were focusing on the things they were good at, and celebrated their successes.
Supporting quote for the innovation from key stakeholders:
In Learning from Excellence [learningfromexcellence.com/], Adrian Plunkett says: We tend to regard excellence as something to gratefully accept, rather than something to study and understand. Our preoccupation with avoiding error and harm in healthcare has resulted in the rise of rules and rigidity, which in turn has cultivated a culture of fear and stifled innovation. It’s time to redress the balance. We believe that studying excellence in healthcare can create new opportunities for learning and improving resilience and staff morale.'

Quote from a participant of AI training: ‘The Appreciative Inquiry training will help me to run round table meetings exploring episodes of excellence better. But it will also be useful for my everyday practice, where I will use its strength-based methodology to help me get the best out of the theatre teams I work in.’
Which local or national clinical or policy priorities does this innovation address:
Learning from Excellence - Patient Safety
Plans for the future:
Studying excellence in healthcare can create new opportunities for learning and improving resilience and staff morale. The plan is to continue to study excellence and create more opportunities for learning.

Also aim to get other health organisations in the region to begin to adopt Learning from Excellence and Appreciating Inquiry in their work of practice.

Contact for further information:
Helen Hunt: helen.hunt@wmahsn.org
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