First of January 2021: "Year 1 post COVID" or "Year 2 of COVID"? 2020 was the year where lots of things did not go to plan. And where many unexpected things happened.
So many colleagues and friends have suffered: from COVID, from isolation, from exhaustion. It has been a worrying year. For many 2020 was 'the year to forget'.
Growing up in the heart of Europe I have always been on the road. And as a researcher and learner I have for many years appreciated the opportunity to travel to conferences across the globe. 2020 did at times feel isolated and insular.
But on the other hand side so many unexpected opportunities opened-up; limitations of movement lead to new experiences: observing local nature up-close on daily walks, witnessing the growing up of a baby-swan, learning to play Badminton (badly - ask the neighbours who get the shuttle-cocks) and experimenting with cakes and curries (thank you, Linda for the spices!).
In May we did manage against all odds to gather for "Patient-Powered-Safety-2020" despite restrictions on travel. In the webinar we heard from the amazing Helen Haskell about her experience of changing healthcare. Prue Thimbleby taught us about the power of patient stories in influencing board decisions, Alys Cole-King shared her experience on supporting each other on how to stay safe in times of personal anxiety and crisis, never more important than in 2020. Ruth Kern from THIS Institute drew the map of citizen science with members of the community driving health service research. Lisa Fabb brought the vision of patients knowing their own medical data. Hanneke Merten spoke shared research about the experience of patients after a catastrophic event. There was international attendance (!), Welsh Rap during the lunch break and debate on where patient participation in safety should take us next.
In the meantime health services struggled: What was already a stretched system became over-burdened and waiting-lists exploded. In hospital patients were on their own, isolated from their friends and family and unsupported by their love and scrutiny that normally assists their care and healing. Numbers will be difficult to obtain but patient representation was put on hold in many settings. We are not sure how much diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening conditions might have been affected and how reporting of adverse events might have changed.
But: even against the backdrop of COVID-19 research has continued, journals publish new data and interventions and learning from this research will results in new insights and affect the direction in which health care develops. COVID has accelerated many programs and leant more urgency to innovation in healthcare technology.
Time for "Patient-Powered-Safety 2021": On the 21st of May 2021 our third international symposium on patient safety will be hosted again online. From the work that has been published in the last 12 months three themes are starting to emerge:
The usage of tools that were designed for healthcare staff by patients: checklists have been adapted from aviation and other high reliability industries for examples for safety checks before and during surgery. There are now a number of examples on how patients might be able to use similar checklists that we are hoping to explore further.
Patient held records are spreading globally: and documentation goes beyond lists of The usage of tools that were designed for healthcare staff by patients: checklists have been adapted from aviation and other high reliability industries for examples for safety checks before and during surgery. There are now a number of examples on how patients might be able to use similar checklists that we are hoping to explore further.
Patients act as the canaries in the coal-mine: patients and family members are raising the alarm on adverse events, running their own monitoring of vital signs, protecting family members during critical illness. We will hear about the challenges and opportunities associated with these systems.
Have you seen other examples on how patient and those close to them are making health care safer? Let's talk !