We understand compassionate care begins with high quality, safe care delivered by staff who feel well supported to give of their best. Northumbria Healthcare consistently ranks amongst the best in England, and is highly rated by regulators. It has won numerous awards for leadership, patient safety, quality of care and clinical service redesign – including HSJ Provider Trust of the Year.

In annual NHS staff surveys the trust performs exceptionally well, with over 90% of staff consistently reporting that their work makes a real difference to patients. We have deliberately promoted local education initiatives to ensure our workforce feels well trained and motivated. We are committed to understanding more about the barriers to dignified and compassionate care. Four years ago Northumbria carried out a mixed method study to establish the learning needs of staff in relation to caring for older peole. Interviews were carried out with hospital staff, from Exec Directors to domestic and porters, with focus groups conducted with liaison teams, carers and patients. Our interprofessional ‘Learning about the Patient ‘programme was designed around the findings of this study and the needs of the people we care for.

The programme has been very positively evaluated by staff and has demonstrated a statistically significant shift in participant’s attitudes, awareness and confidence in delivering person centred care for people with dementia, delirium and depression. This year 20 multidisciplinary teams across acute and community care will benefit from this training. We listen and act on the views of more than 50,000 patients every year.

The Northumbria Patient Experience Programme has been presented nationally and internationally and was sited as an example of best practise in both the RCP Future Hospital’s Report and the Department of Health response to the Francis enquiry. Our aim is to detect problems quickly and to act swiftly. Our focus is what really matter to patients. We use a variety of methods to understand how well we respond to patients’ needs at a site, specialty, ward and individual consultant level. Real time feedback is given to teams within 24 hours. Results are transparently shared with patients, families and the public.

Since 2012 we have invited Age UK to visit our wards, observe our care and provide us with immediate feedback about the opportunities we take to promote compassionate care, together with those that we miss. We want all our patients to be cared for in environments where they feel valued and understood. ‘This is me’ was originally developed in Northumberland and is used to help safeguard personal choice and control. Dignity crockery, that is easy to see and safe to use, is available. Accessible mealtime menus with photos help those who are unable to read. Our community services help older people to stay active and connected. We established 5 local forums for people with dementia and family members. These forums work in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and community mental health teams. . Leisure activities will be funded this year to help people with dementia stay out and about.