Looked After and Adopted Children's Health

The improvement work led by the coaches and faculty of the Sheffield Microsystem Coaching Academy has had clear and evident benefits to service users across the city. What was not expected was the huge positive impact that the improvement work would have on the staff involved in the coaching.


Dave Threlfall from Sheffield Children’s coached the Looked After and Adopted Children’s Health (LAACH) team, and says that the improvement work is ‘invaluable’. The LAACH team consists of a number of administrative, nursing, and consultant staff, and historically the team has been frustrated by delays in the pathway, challenging information flows between colleagues, and a lack of structured opportunity to challenge the status quo.

Dave says that after the microsystem coaching began, the team welcomed the opportunity to understand the system, processes, and their teammates’ roles in much clearer detail.

Our Purpose: To achieve for the Looked After and Adopted Children what we would want to achieve for our own children.

The roles and responsibilities of the people within the team were clarified, and work was reallocated to the most appropriate team members, allowing everyone to work to their individual strengths, and increase the timeliness and quality of the outputs. The coaching forum provided a protected environment for the team to discuss their issues, and then work together to find resolutions whilst ensuring the children and families were kept at the centre of all potential changes.

Dave notes that as a result of the work, the whole team has been able to work together in a more focused way to enable them to generate the change ideas that can simplify pathways and therefore improve workflow and outputs.

Dave has worked extensively with the administration team and coached them in the art of ‘Effective Meeting Skills’, data collection, cause and effect diagrams, time logs, and process maps, and these have been used to shape the systems for both themselves and their clinical colleagues. 

The tool has been so successful in increasing the productivity of LAACH team meetings, that Dave now uses this at meetings outside of his coaching work. He says that many of the concepts and tools are ‘subconscious’ now that he has the ‘mindset of service improvement’. Dave says, “There is a desire of many MCA-trained coaches to use microsystem improvement methodologies at every opportunity”, and jokes, “I flow chart everything these days!”

When he’s not directly using the tools, he’s telling his colleagues about the benefits of the coaching courses offered by the Academy. Coaches using the tools have seen significant improvements to patient care in their microsystems, and the work is also having a marked impact on the teams implementing the changes.

As a result of the microsystem work, Dave is confident that the team will continue on the path of improvement long after the formal coaching has finished.

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