Know your PLACE

by Susan Maxwell (Patient Governor)—The Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) was replaced in April 2013 by the Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE). Whatever the acronym, these teams were put in place to safeguard the patient in the hospital environment.

Susan-Maxwell2.jpgSusan Maxwell, Patient Governor

E: susan.maxwell@chelwest.nhs.uk

The Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) was replaced in April 2013 by the Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE). Whatever the acronym, these teams were put in place to safeguard the patient in the hospital environment. Both teams had patient representatives, but PLACE is different in that it is the patient representatives who actually say on which wards the assessments take place and their assessment alone is what matters to NHS England. Each ward and department will from this year, receive their own results, across all sections of the audit.

Assessment teams are made up of patient assessors and clinical staff, with at least 50% of the team being made up of patient representatives. These assessments give patients and the public a voice about local standards of care, ensuring that they have increased influence over the way their local health and care services are run.

Although PLACE assessments are undertaken throughout the year on a smaller scale (two or three wards and outpatient areas every quarter), there is a mandatory annual assessment which must include a minimum of 10 wards, 25% of our outpatient areas, external and communal areas, A&E, wayfinding (signage) and dementia. This is a big operation over one or two weeks, which includes the assemblage of many patient representatives from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the local population and from Healthwatch.

PLACE assessments ensure that the hospital maintains robust infection control through a rigorous daily cleaning programme, and good food to promote a speedy recovery. During the audit, waste segregation is reviewed, patient privacy, dignity and wellbeing, ward safety, hand hygiene, staff appearance, ward confidentially—plus the condition and appearance of bathrooms, flooring, furniture and lighting is assessed to help us maintain a high standard. The assessors are able to identify where improvements can be made, which in turn helps the cleaning, catering and maintenance staff, including the ward staff, to quickly facilitate improvement and follow through with an action plan that is monitored each month. Representatives chat to the patients to get their opinions of how well a ward is cleaned, their food, privacy and dignity, along with any compliments or concerns they may wish to register.

I’m happy to report that the PLACE Assessment which recently took place throughout the week 9–13 March was a great success. There were minor faults, of course, but on the whole the hospital shaped up very well, with patients giving high praise. The results will be assessed further by NHS England, and an annual report will register how we stand in the league table of hospitals.

The key to Chelsea and Westminster maintaining high standards in the PLACE assessments is due to the Estates & Facilities team’s determination to never become complacent about good results, but to strive to better them continually, working in partnership with clinical leads and the patient representatives. To facilitate this, the PLACE committee meet each month for two hours.

If you are interested in knowing more about becoming a PLACE assessor, just Google ‘NHS PLACE Assessments’ where an NHS England webpage will provide you with all the information.

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