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September 20, 2021

HQC wraps up new QI program for human services field

The Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC) is helping build quality improvement skills within human services organizations as part of a new program called the Community Quality Improvement Collective.

Launched in March 2021, the Collective is a project-based applied program that provides resources, coaching, and peer support to help participating partners – which includes community-based organizations (CBOs) and governmental organizations – make improvements in the services they provide.

The Collective’s Project Lead Riley Woodman, who is also an improvement lead with HQC, explained the program teaches partners about tools and approaches that can help them use resources more effectively, while also building capacity to reduce barriers to service.

“Quality improvement is a science that has been proven to be adaptable across industries,” Woodman said. “The Collective has given HQC the opportunity to work with our partners to adapt quality improvement methodology into their various organizations and fields. I think that’s what makes the Collective so unique. It’s not just a training program, it’s a collective, a network.”

The program is six months long and is focused on the basics of quality improvement. Throughout the program, participating partners take part in four three-hour learning sessions, which culminate in a capstone event at the end. There are also hour-long networking sessions and coaching sessions available to participants.

Collective Curriculum Lead Carla Flogan, who is also an improvement lead with HQC, explained the Collective gives partners another way to think about their day-to-day operations and way that they use the data they’re already collecting.

“I think our partners make changes all of the time and sometimes they may not know if a change is an improvement,” she said. “But with QI, they can leverage their finite resources to the areas that are showing improvement and scale and spread that throughout their respective organizations.”

Along with learning about QI, partners are each conducting an improvement project as part of the program. The first step is helping partners scope a problem they want to improve. The next step is helping them apply the learnings from the program to systematically improve on their focus area.

Woodman said the thought is it that partners will work through their projects with HQC, collect and analyze their data, and report back through a capstone event.

“The main thing we tell our partners is to start small and we can help them work through this process to eventually scale up,” he said. “The goal of this is for our partners to use this quality improvement methodology as a tool in their toolboxes. These organizations already collect and analyze data to ensure effectiveness or for accountability purposes. We’re helping them use their data in a different way to measure for improvement and to make evidence-based changes that have been proven to work in their specific contexts.”

Partner organizations

The Collective’s first cohort consists of six organizations, including the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Family Service Saskatoon, Family Service Regina, SaskCulture, Interval House Saskatoon, and Northern Lights School Division (NLSD).

Each partner organization is at a different stage in their project and they are also varied in experience with quality improvement methodology.

Family Service Regina CEO Shellie Pociuk said her organization had already been doing quality improvement work when they decided to join the Collective.

“We always jump at opportunities to explore new learnings and refreshers around quality improvement,” Pociuk said, adding another draw for her organization was that the Collective is made up of a number of non-profit organizations from within the human services field.

For its project, Family Service Regina is looking at its internal processes surrounding mental health counselling with a quality improvement lens. She said one of their key goals is to improve access to people in their community for mental health services.

“A lot of times, we need to react to things that come up in our community, to support people in the moment that it happens,” Pociuk said. “When we do that, we are supporting our community, but what happens sometimes is we also bottleneck our internal processes and overwhelm some of our staff with rushed procedures. Our project is to look at quality improvement for internal processes that will help us continue to serve the community through immediate services to mental health counselling.”

Pociuk said HQC has helped Family Service Regina become more thoughtful about the quality improvement work it’s doing. She said HQC staff have coached her team through how to use quality improvement tools and methodology to meet the changing needs of the community.

“The Collective has helped us become more intentional around our processes and what an initiative could look like rather than just throwing a problem for our QI committee to solve,” she said. “It’s going to give us a little more structure.”

The first wave of the Collective wraps up on September 22, 2021.

The Collective program is for Saskatchewan organizations and agencies within the human services field that have an impact on the social determinants of health in their communities.

Click here for more information about the Collective.