By Nicholas Edwards, Chief Clinical & Quality Advisor
Having recently joined the Forward team in the newly appointed role of Chief Clinical & Quality Advisor, many staff and external contractors have asked me what is Clinical Excellence and how does Forward achieve Clinical Excellence?
For Forward, Clinical Excellence is about improving every aspect of the services and supports that that we provide to the SCI and greater community, whilst also ensuring the safety of our staff and minimising the environmental impacts of Forward’s business activities. Forward monitors its progress in achieving Clinical Excellence in a multitude of ways. This can be through the completion of annual accreditation audits such as the NDIS Standards, ACIS Certification, and ISO 9001 & ISO 45001 quality certifications. Forward also ensures that the organisation and our staff comply with legislated policies and licencing by completing inhouse quality audits, reviewing incidents, feedbacks and generating corrective actions. Through working with local SCI community groups, supporting SCI research, and partnering with universities to provide education and training, Forward is able to keep abreast of the latest SCI research and needs of the SCI community. The Forward clinical teams also attend a variety of health and speciality conferences to network, present and keep abreast of developments in nursing and allied heath therapies. In facilitating these activities, the Forward Quality Team works with each of the clinical and service departments to constantly considering ways to improve our services and strive for Clinical Excellence.
Forward Thinking & COVID-19
The last couple of years has seen COVID-19 affect everyone throughout the world with the associated limitations, restrictions, and challenges. Whilst COVID-19 has limited and created many challenges to the way Forward services have been provided, COVID-19 has also led to some Forward thinking and prompted us to reconsider the way activities are performed and how certain tasks can still be completed whilst limiting potential exposures and promoting safety. Some of the biggest changes encountered by Forward over the last year have been around the increased use of technology, the shift to staff working from home, the limiting of staff face to face contact and the significant increase in use of infection prevention equipment.
Many Forward staff who were unfamiliar with the use of technology, video conferencing and application-based programs upskilled to use technology and work remotely. This allowed Forward to maintain many of its non-clinical services and remain productive despite the limitations caused by COVID-19. To ensure client, staff and visitor safety, all persons still needing to attend any of the Forward sites, were required to complete online COVID surveillance testing. To date Forward has screened and tested over 19,000 staff, clients and visitors using our online COVID-19 screening application. This has allowed Forward to track, trace and significantly limit COVID-19 entering our facilities and thereby improving the safety of all clients, staff and visitors.
A new way Forward
With the progress of staff using IT based systems and becoming more confident with using online programs and applications, the Forward Quality Team will be developing a range of online based education, competency and auditing assessment tools. Forward has started to engage with a variety of software and training organisations, with the aim to not only develop in-house based tools but also to develop resources for the greater community.
These projects align with Forward’s purpose of leading the way with services and supports towards a brighter, positive future for our community. Having worked in a variety of hospitals, rehabilitation and disability settings, I have recognised that I am very fortunate to be working in the role of Chief Clinical & Quality Advisor at Forward. The Quality Team prides itself in being part of Forward, striving for Clinical Excellence and sharing the values that guide Forward in its commitment to empowering those living with spinal cord injury to live their best lives possible every day.