15 September 2020

Reconnecting with Service User QI Coaches and the Community QI Forum in Luton and Bedfordshire: Voices of our Service User and Carer QI Coaches

By Satwinder Kaur (QI Coach and Service User), Craig Donohoe (QI Coach, Service User and Carer) and Daisy Maradzika (Improvement Advisor)

Why is Quality Improvement and the Community QI Forum important post Covid-19?

Satwinder Kaur (QI Coach and Service User)

As a QI coach with in-depth knowledge of involvement in projects and as a practising lived experience coach, I feel there will be a greater need to practice systemic thinking used in QI methodology, post-Covid-19 in Luton and Bedfordshire.

During Covid-19, most in-patient and community QI projects came to a sudden standstill, due to the need to change the process of care provided within ELFT. From a coaching perspective, I felt quite helpless, as I was unable to continue guiding one of the projects I was coaching. I could only send an email to the Ward Manager letting them know that I was thinking of them, as they dealt with the challenging global pandemic.

Before Covid-19, with the support of the QI Department and Improvement Advisors, I taught QI methodology and tools for improvement of daily practice, which worked well. I am hopeful, therefore, that after Covid-19, QI learning, implementation and spread, as well as creative, systems thinking, will evolve and accelerate.

For this reason, I believe it is important for QI Coach, Improvement Advisor and Clinical Director to remain connected, to support and stabilise QI work in our communities. The monthly Community QI forum, which is well attended by service users, carers, staff, and anyone with a passion for QI in Luton and Bedfordshire, gives us that creative and safe place to explore our ideas for quality improvement.

Why I became a QI Coach?


Craig Donohoe (QI Coach, Service User and Carer)

I became a QI coach for several reasons. Firstly, it was healing to believe that I could develop more skills to restart my career and participate in the working world again. It was a risk that was a sign of my recovery, as I was learning to expand my world again, and move beyond the fears that had been limiting my life.

Secondly, I wanted to combine QI coaching with my skills as a life coach and teacher, in order to regain my confidence, and find new meaning in my life, by making a difference to others.

Finally, I wanted to make a difference across ELFT as a QI coach, as well as through my contribution to people participation initiatives. Being a QI coach allowed me to understand that QI is more than just QI project meetings. It can also be a creative, fun way of being.

Restarting Community QI Forums

We resumed the Community QI Forums in May 2020 with the support of the Improvement Advisor. This involved chairing, minute-taking, and co-creating the agenda at meetings with the Clinical Director and Improvement Advisor. The experience of taking leadership in these meetings has been an important part of recovery, as it has allowed me, other service users and carers, to believe that we are able to restart our careers after a diagnosis, giving meaning to our lives, and made it possible for us to use our talents again, after doubting if we would participate in the working world again.

It has also helped reduce pandemic anxieties and shift the focus away from our fears, to that of making a positive difference to others. Finally, we needed to maintain the ground-breaking nature of our work in the Community QI Forums, recognised internationally, and spread our innovative culture to new staff members, and carers, and not allow the pandemic to stop our amazing progress.

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