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In part one of our two-part interview with Chris Day, Director of Engagement at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), we went back to basics to understand what makes a best-practice policy.

The conversation highlighted the key building blocks for the foundation of an effective policy: clarity and alignment on the organisation’s purpose, collaboration, a common perspective, and creation of an enabler for change.

Drafting a policy, however, is just the first step in the process. The subsequent steps – the ways in which the organisation and stakeholders involved bring that policy to life, and put it into practice – will ultimately determine whether this is in fact an effective policy.

We asked Chris Day his views on how policyholders could approach this.

1. It starts with the policy holders.

Buy-in from those responsible for maintaining or creating policies is key. Engaging your policy holders with defining the purpose, can help ensure the right culture is adopted and reduce the risk of perceptions around policy adjustments as annoying admin changes. Only then should you communicate your policies more widely to your people. You’re risking a poor engagement with your wider staff groups, by not having the right foundations and attitudes in place.

2. Make small changes and grow in time

Start small and grow. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel from the get-go. And no-one will get it perfect in version one. Approach this policy as a live document, one that adapts and grows with time. This will help you clearly define what good looks like and ensure the right measures of success are in place. Additionally, this showcases that your policies reflect local or regulatory changes – a positive when auditing or inspecting.

3. Cut out the jargon

Keep it simple. Too often a policy is written with heavy compliance. How can you expect your clinicians, porters, admin staff etc. to follow the guidance as set within the policy when it’s deemed difficult to interpret by even the most seasoned professionals? My recommendation: lower your reading age.

We’re currently looking at how we can revise our policies so that a 12-year-old can understand what we’re trying to achieve. There will obviously be a time and a place to be very particular within a policy, especially for people who have a duty of care. But for everything else – keep it transparent and easy to interpret.

4. Tools not rules

In addition to feedback, think about how you want your people to engage with your policies. Again, there may be circumstances where reading cover-to-cover is required, but this shouldn’t be the expected.

Make a searchable index, allow people to be able to access the policies when they need them most and to be able to find exactly what they need at ease.

5. Feedback is a gift

We want to improve the outcomes from policy, but you can’t drive that sort of change without allowing people to feedback.

Feedback to some can be seen as a negative: that someone is saying your work is not correct. Yet, we need to see feedback as a gift and a way to improve on what we hold already. It will enable people to feel like they’re part of the change (generating buy-in), which in turn will positively impact your engagement on the final document.

Make a big deal out of collecting the feedback: allow people to have their say. This can be done more informally, or through set weekly calls, until you’re happy with what you set out to achieve.

6. Tailor to your audience

People are different. Some prefer visual learning, others reading and so on. Think about how you can make the policy meaningful to individuals. Perhaps best-practice examples, images, and if it’s needed – provide versions that are specific to your audience – a nursing policy or a junior doctor policy.

The key is to make it as easy as possible for your audience, without creating too much administration, which will only prove detrimental to the ongoing impact.

7. Get creative

Hearing rumors or conversations that are simply not factual? Think about new ways of communicating your policies.

Monthly myth-busters in key areas of the organisation, wards or messes, may be an easy way to stop the spread of miscommunication.

Keep it simple, easy to read and visual. This will help the echo of the right information and can help towards creating a positive experience for your people.

How do you engage your people with policies?

There will be a whole host of ways in which we can encourage wider engagement with policies. We want to hear yours!

Complete the form below to have yours included in a ‘Top Tips’ document which we will create and share to wider organisations. It may be something incredibly simple, or more complex. Whatever it may be, share yours to help other people, teams and organisations to bring policies to life and make a positive impact to people and patients across health and care.

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