The visits were requested by the Local Maternity and Neonates System Board (LMNS) and answer some of the questions expecting parents have and show them what to expect. The 15 Steps Challenge tool focuses on seeing care through a patient or carer’s eyes, and exploring their first impressions. These visit were also follow ups to the visits that took place in April 2019 to Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital.
The visits took place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, there were a number of restrictions in place across the country and in hospitals. It was decided that the safest way to conduct the visits was using cameras to record the visits virtually, to both ensure the safety of volunteers and staff that were conducting the visit and also not put any extra pressure on the hospitals. This was the first time that Healthwatch Northamptonshire or either hospital had conducted a 15 Steps visit in this way.
We saw that both hospitals appeared to be coping with the new way of working. The faster testing at Northampton General Hospital meant that patients’ experiences were not too disturbed by Covid-19 and in Kettering General Hospital allowances had been made to accommodate for the new changes needed to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on patients. At both hospitals, we would have liked to have seen more ‘clean’ stickers on equipment that was to be ready to use.
Both NGH and KGH have found the visits helpful and implemented the recommendations made by the visit team.