Co-designing a National Quality and Patient Safety (QPS) Competency Framework with healthcare staff, educators and patients

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Co-design representatives from Health Service Acute, Community, Ambulance and National Quality and Patient Safety Services as well as Academic and Patient Partners’ .
Co-design representatives from Health Service Acute, Community, Ambulance and National Quality and Patient Safety Services as well as Academic and Patient Partners’.

Members of the National QPS Competency Framework Project Team, Dr Mary Browne, HSE, Dr Aoife DeBrún, UCD, Veronica Hanlon, HSE, Dr Dimuthu Rathnayake, UCD and Stephanie Horan, explain their work on a National Quality and Patient Safety (QPS) Competency Framework and its relevance for health managers.

While Ireland’s healthcare system is populated by a set of well-trained and highly skilled healthcare professionals, there is a lack of clarity and consistency regarding the necessary competencies required of healthcare staff to prepare them for creating and supporting cultures of high quality and safe patient care. To address this gap, we are developing a National Quality and Patient Safety (QPS) Competency Framework to promote consistency and help to ensure that everyone working in healthcare has the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver the best possible care.

This framework can play a substantial role in supporting and informing national educational and training programs by identifying essential skills required to prepare staff for QPS work in practice. With this framework in place, we can ensure that Irish healthcare professionals consistently have the requisite skills and knowledge to ensure they are providing the highest quality and safest care to every patient.

The HSE, in collaboration with colleagues at University College Dublin, is working on this two-year project to define what components should constitute the relevant competencies to support staff training and engagement in QPS activities. This is a collaborative research project led by Dr Mary Browne from National Quality and Patient Safety Directorate (NQPSD) of the Health Service Executive and Dr Aoife De Brún at the UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Education, and Innovation in Health Systems (UCD IRIS Centre), School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin.

This project employs research-based co-design methods to develop the QPS competency framework. Patient partners and healthcare staff are integral to the entire process as co-designers and determining at every stage what should be included in the competency framework. Systematic research methods enable us to draw on existing international evidence while working with key stakeholders from Higher and Further Education Institutes, healthcare organisations, policymakers, health service leaders, training bodies, regulators, clinical and operational staff and patient/public representatives to gather their perspectives. This inclusive approach will result in the development of a QPS competency framework that is evidence-informed, robust and meets the real world needs of staff in everyday practice. 

In the initial phase, we conducted a comprehensive literature review to gather relevant evidence on QPS competencies and competency frameworks from around the world. Through a series of outreach sessions, we recruited a diverse sample of key informants for surveys and discussions. Findings from the literature review will inform the content and discussions in on-going co-design sessions, ensuring an evidenced based approach underpins the development of a robust QPS competency framework. Following this, we will also gather qualitative feedback from different stakeholders and settings to assess the framework’s usability, feasibility and comprehension.

The integration of QPS competencies into the curriculum and education pathways presents significant opportunities as well as challenges and collaborating with stakeholders on the implementation will be crucial. The iterative structured qualitative discussions are being conducted in incremental phases to define the structure, content, and pathways to enable staff to deliver better, safer care at all levels of the Irish healthcare system. The work of co-design groups is on-going, and we expect to have an initial draft of the framework by December 2023 and further refine this in early 2024. Following testing with stakeholder groups, we hope to produce a framework that is comprehensive, accessible and user-friendly and that addresses the gap by providing a document that outlines a set of skills, competencies and behaviours expected of all people working in healthcare settings.

Would you like to join with us for our future co-design sessions?

For more information or to express your interest in taking part in future co-design workshops, please contact us using the details below.

Email: Dimuthu.rathnayake@ucd.ie / stephanie.horan@hse.ie