Improving our public health bus

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust public health busA public health bus which takes health services direct to communities, has had a makeover – making it easier for people to use and better for the environment.

The bus used by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) has new and safer steps and more space has been created inside by folding tables down, rather than having them fixed, to make things easier for people with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

Also, it is now solar powered, rather than having to rely on a petrol generator, thanks to £8,500 from Greener NHS. The space inside has also been transformed, to make it more inviting, with colourful posters letting people know where they can get further health and wellbeing support.

The bus delivers health services to people and communities who might otherwise have trouble getting to the trust’s clinic sites. Services offered on the bus include health visiting, school health, immunisation, children and young people’s counselling, health checks, One You Kent, sexual health and TB nursing.

Helen Merrick, Health Inequalities and Partnerships Manager at KCHFT, led the improvement work.

She said: “We wanted to increase the visibility of the public health services we offer and to increase our working with targeted groups, who do not always access healthcare. We aimed to be more accessible and to take healthcare out to people, rather than expecting them to come to us.

“We started off by looking at how we could improve the vehicle, working with our services, to see what would work for them and also working with patient volunteers, community engagement groups and other organisations who use similar vehicles, including Kent Association for the Blind.

“We spoke with people using the bus and parents said they didn’t want to leave their buggies outside, so we’ve folded down desks so they can now bring buggies on board. We also did a walk round, to make sure wheelchair users would be able to access the space. Other feedback has resulted in us adding some Easy Read leaflets and putting some posters at a lower level.”

Commenting on the bus Sarah Ansell, a patient experience volunteer and a public governor with KCHFT, said: "I think the bus is very accessible to people who are disabled and walk with sticks. It is a brilliant resource for the public. taken to the public.”

The work also involved promoting the bus to KCHFT services who might want to use it and making the booking system easier, with the changes having resulted in increased bookings. A how to use the bus guide was created for colleagues too.

Next, the trust is to see if the bus could be used to deliver clinical care such as dentistry and podiatry. The public health bus team are also working with local food banks who set up at various sites, to see if the bus could go along too, at the same time.

Feedback from users will continue to be sought, with those staffing the bus to ask people to complete a quick and easy smiley face survey on a tablet as they leave.

Helen used a quality improvement (QI) approach to the work. She started by using the project on a page template from the trust’s QI website, which helped her to map out what needed to be done. She also used a fishbone diagram, to help think about all the different stakeholders who needed to be involved.

QI tools used, project on a page, helpful to map it all out and fishbone to think about people we needed to involve.

The Public Health bus flash of brilliance