Champions in Healthcare: Role and Responsibilities
Champions are present in many different industries and job roles. By definition, a champion is any employee that’s dedicated to improving a certain area in a company. For example, they may be dedicated to improving the work processes of a corporation, they may want to improve overall employee wellbeing in an organisation, or they may want to provide a greater level of service to customers or service users.
Champions in healthcare settings play an important role in improving their organisation. In this article, we will outline the role and responsibilities of champions in healthcare, as well as the benefits of creating champions in your setting.
What is a Change Champion?
In summary, a change champion is an individual in an organisation who volunteers, or has a job role, to facilitate change within the organisation. They advocate the change, promote it, and are instrumental in ensuring it is implemented.
As well as promoting new ideas for change, they also support the vision of the organisation and encourage and motivate others to be inspired by their ideas too. As such, they are important for helping to move new ideas or innovations through initiation and development all the way to implementation.
Roles and Responsibilities of Champions in Healthcare
The role of a champion in healthcare is an important one. It brings forward change and ensures that services are constantly improving and working towards a better standard, benefiting both the health service and its service users.
A champion has a responsibility to identify gaps and inefficiencies in the way the healthcare organisation operates, and must be confident in their ideas and able to speak out. They must value providing high quality care and ensuring that care never falls below this standard. They must also be able to lead the change necessary for improving things internally and externally within the healthcare system.
Healthcare environments may just have one champion, or they may have multiple, depending on the size of the organisation and the necessity for different people to oversee different practices. For example, a large organisation may have senior leaders who are champions for large projects or new developments, but may also have staff who are champions for improving day-to-day tasks, such as investigating how altering meal times in a residential home can improve the quality of life for its residents. As a result, it’s common for healthcare organisations to appoint champion roles to different members of the team in order for them to focus on different aspects of care.
The changes that healthcare champions bring about can be large, sweeping changes that affect thousands of people, or they can affect just a few. For example, they may need to bring about an entire new system of working across an organisation, or they may make some smaller adjustments that are just as essential and important.
As an example, Skills for Care explain on one of their blog posts that an organisation implemented a ‘continence champion’. This person now undertakes all continence assessments and then orders any necessary supplies immediately. Prior to the appointing of this champion, a patient would have had to wait for a District Nurse to do this – delaying what they need and affecting their level of care. This change saw the organisation receive an ‘outstanding’ rating from the CQC: a true mark of the high quality care that they are delivering.
Benefits of Healthcare Change Champions
Gaining an outstanding rating, as mentioned in the example above, is just one of many benefits that appointing champions can lead to. In fact, the benefits of having change champions are wide-ranging and can include:
- A higher quality of care for your patients or service users. If there are appointed people who will specifically look into the care you offer, consider ways to improve it, and put these improvements into place, then this will ensure you are offering care that is always of the highest quality. This will improve the quality of life for those in receipt of care, and in turn make you a much better care establishment.
- Up-to-date policies and procedures. One of the main benefits of appointing change champions is that you can assign a champion to any aspect of your work environment, and appoint new champions whenever you identify something else that needs improvement. By having different champions to look at different aspects of your work environment, it helps to ensure that your policies and ways of working remain up-to-date and focussed.
- Improved ratings. We briefly touched on this above with the case study, but by having champions in place who are continually looking at ways of improving your services and establishment, it can help to improve your rating from the CQC as you will be demonstrating that you are committed to continuously improving your care.
- Increased staff knowledge. If you have members of staff who have learnt about alternative ways of working as part of their champion role, or have learnt a lot more about their own role, then this will increase the amount of knowledge they have for their work. Additionally, they can share this knowledge with other staff members so that everyone can benefit from greater knowledge and understanding.
- Greater staff morale. If staff feel like they’re continuously learning, this will help them to feel more fulfilled and will increase their morale. Additionally, appointing staff members as champions means greater opportunity for personal development for those staff members, which will in turn keep them more motivated and help with their skillset.
- A better workplace environment. By appointing champions who can look at improving your service, you are showing that you are committed to providing the best possible care that you can. This is likely to increase both patient confidence as well as staff confidence: you will show staff that they work somewhere that really cares about its patients.
The role of a champion is a crucial one for ensuring an environment is operating the best that it can be and is providing the best possible care to those who need it. Appointing a champion in healthcare can bring many benefits, including improved staff morale and ratings, and is essential for helping you to deliver top-quality care.