Catching the morning train

Suzanne WhitchurchSuzanne Whitchurch, Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

I have spent a lot of time on trains over the last couple of weeks. In fact, I think I hold the team record for the longest time spent on a single journey after it took me 11 hours to travel from Nottingham to Truro. Mind you, it was well worth the trip.

train 141114As well as the trek to Truro, I have also travelled to a lot of places beginning with the letter ‘L’! I visited London for a Pioneer Assembly meeting, and our HQ in Leicestershire to develop the dissemination of Cornwall’s story (see further down) – ensuring key partners hear about the impact the project has had on reducing the number of vulnerable people needing hospital treatment.

Next up was Leyland for the Skills for Care round-table event yesterday and Leeds today for a joint meeting with the Information Governance Alliance (IGA), who we are working with to develop a shared understanding of the use of a common language around information sharing.

As the Engagement Manager working with Cornwall County Council’s Living Well Pioneer Programme, I have actually had the opportunity to visit Cornwall a few times now – by train! Whilst there I have met a range of people who are involved in the programme and who are really committed to improving services for people in the community.

cornwall 141114In fact, the work being undertaken in Cornwall is so high profile it has received national coverage in The Guardian and we have been asked to use a pioneer case study to support the Private Members’ Bill which is calling for a requirement to share information for direct care purposes.

These visits to Cornwall have also given me the chance to learn more about the important role the voluntary sector can play in information sharing as Age UK has been a critical partner in shaping the Pioneer Programme.

It’s not only from a professional perspective that I consider it essential to improve the sharing of information in the health sector either. My own family has been affected by a lack of information sharing.

My father has just been in hospital for four weeks (this time), mostly waiting while the dietician, the diabetic nurse, the vascular surgeon and the tissue viability nurses each made different decisions about his care without communicating with one another.

hospital_141114During his four-week stay, each of the health professionals would tell him and my family different stories about his progress because none of them shared notes with each other. The confusion was made worse still by the staff either losing the notes they had made about my father, and even his medication.

When it came to being discharged, he didn’t leave the hospital until late at night and although is now at home receiving aftercare, it is being delivered by several different nursing teams who all keep separate records and files.

I know that my father’s case is not an isolated one and this is why my work with the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing, including catching all the morning trains, is very important to me.

#InfoStoryWe are bringing stories like my father’s to life in our ‘What’s your information sharing story’ campaign during Better Local Services Month, so that work like Cornwall’s Living Well Pioneer Programme will continue to be championed both locally and nationally.

Take a look at the storybook – do you have one that you could share with us?