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Hospital forum promoting greater service user involvement

A 10-PERSON forum made up of service users and heads of different sections of Ennis Hospital is working behind the scenes at the hospital to promote and encourage service user involvement in all aspects of their care.
The Ennis Hospital Forum, chaired by Councillor Peter Considine, held its first meeting on May 6, but a spokesman for the HSE confirmed that for the last couple of years, there has been a service user on the hospital’s hygiene and infection control committees.
The group consists of Peter Considine; Michael Neylon; Laura Rowland; Carmel Ui Cheallaigh; Joan O’Neill Kelly; Kathleen Breen; with hospital staff are Mary Cahir, director of nursing; Frank Keane, hospital manager; Deirdre McNamara, administrative secretary and Mhairi Barron, risk advisor.
The forum was set up as part of a national initiative, which is currently being implemented in all acute hospitals. The group is lead by the hospital manager and director of nursing, as per national guidelines. A spokesman for the HSE explained the purpose of the forum.
“The objective of the forum is to promote and encourage service user involvement in all aspects of their care; to enable healthcare staff the opportunity to reflect, listen and learn from the experiences of service user involvement; to provide advice and guidance to HSE management on particular issues and ensure responsiveness to the needs and concerns of the public through consultation with them and audit,” he said.
He added that service users on the forum are receiving training in carrying out audits, to allow them to become involved in audits within the hospital setting such as hand hygiene audits of staff and service users and hygiene audits of wards and departments.
He also pointed out that the hospital is currently organising an public information open day for September and the service users are a vital part of this organisation which is aimed at providing the public with information regarding services currently available within the hospital setting. Laura Rowland has also been very involved in the development of a patient information booklet which has received the Crystal Clear Approval Award and is currently in circulation.
As a result of some of the suggestions of the forum, the hospital has developed service user folders for all wards and departments within the hospital and are currently in the process of information sessions for staff towards improving the service user experience.
“Good work practice templates identifying current practice and improvement initiatives are also currently being completed toward providing the service user with the best hospital experience,” the HSE spokesman added.
Councillor Considine explained that earlier this year the hospital sought service users of the hospital to join an advisory committee. “I was anxious to this. I had personal experience of Ennis hospital’s service last year and my life was saved there. I knew for certain that I wanted to be involved in this forum. While my experience in the hospital had been good, obviously during my stay there I made certain observations, which are informing my contribution and discussions on this forum also,” he commented.
He said that the forum has one main committee, on which all members sit, and a number of sub committees, including hygiene, which focus on certain aspects of the hospital.
“I think this is a very good initiative. It’s aim is to inform the hospital on the needs and opinions of service users of Ennis General Hospital and improve the service and safety of the hospital. Much of discussion centre around the service users accounts of different things they have observed in hospital, either as a patient or as a visitor. It is a very valuable and worthwhile experience,” he added.
He also said that his role as a councillor has also helped inform him of the needs of people in relation to Ennis Hospital.
“A lot of the public tell me about their experiences in the hospital. The most important thing is to take people’s opinions on board and help these accounts inform change. I’m involved in this because I’m very interested in seeing the hospital improve, which I believe it can.”
The forum meets regularly, more than once a month.
“There has been a lot of focus on hygiene, which is paramount. There is a full-time nurse now working full-time on all aspects of hygiene across the hospital, and this has helped bring about major improvements and progress,” Councillor Considine remarked.

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