Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) has been working with the Emergency Care Improvement Programme (ECIP) to improve patient flow. A team from the hospital’s Division A took on board the recommendations from ECIP that patients should be able to answer four key questions about their care and discharge:

1. What is wrong with me or what are you considering?

2. What will happen this morning, this afternoon, tomorrow morning?

3. What do I need to achieve to go home?

4. If all goes to plan, and there are no complications or delays, when will I go home?

In October 2016, Division A nursing teams launched new patient information materials in the form of a daily mealtime placemat and two posters displayed in patient areas, on four of our wards. Our aims from this project are to improve our discharge rates, empower patients to ask questions of their hospital team and to reduce the number of complaints around delayed discharge and poor communication around discharge.

Placemats are placed underneath the patient meal tray, ensuring it’s kept clean during meal times, then when the tray is removed after lunch, the mat remains for the patient to read. Ward and catering staff have been fully briefed about the project, particularly that we are prompting patients to ask questions, so their engagement is really important.

Staff have been asked to ensure questions are always answered or escalated to a senior colleague. We will be looking at the discharge trends and patient feedback/ complaints for the next three months across these four pilot wards. We’ll also be asking ward staff for their comments. If this pilot is deemed successful, we will roll this out more widely across the Trust.