ELFT - Delivering improvements to mental health services at scale!

The East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) is a provider of mental health and community services, to a population of approximately 1.5 million people, mainly across East London, Bedfordshire and Luton. With over 5,500 employees, ELFT have embedded Life QI as an essential part of their QI programme.

Dr Amar Shah - Associate Medical Director for Quality, shares the Life QI Journey ELFT are on…

ELFT's Approach to Quality Improvement… At ELFT we aspire to provide care of the highest quality, in collaboration with those who use our services. As an organisation we embrace continuous improvement and learning. Achieving this will mean we have to think differently, be innovative, and give everyone, at every level, the skills they need to lead change. It will not be easy to build this culture, but focusing on what matters most to our service users and staff, and improving access to evidence-based care will make our services more effective, give more power to our staff and improve patient experience and outcomes.

ELFT's Life QI Journey so far… We launched our quality improvement programme in February 2014, and so are in our fourth year. The scale of our quality improvement work has grown over time, such that now almost all areas of our operations are using systematic continuous improvement methodology to tackle a complex quality issue, involving those closest to the problem in developing and testing ideas that might make a difference.

Check out ELFT's progress… With such a broad and far reaching QI programme, success cannot be measured by the number of QI projects and their outcomes alone. We are also interested in looking at how effectively we are building will, capability and alignment throughout the organisation. The info graphic below indicates what progress we have made so far.


We encourage all teams to utilise QI to tackle a complex quality issue that matters to them, and to their patients, service users or customers. So teams have a fair degree of freedom to pick what problem they think they need to solve.

We also have a number of Trustwide strategic improvement priorities: currently we are working on reducing physical violence, improving access and flow in our community services, redesigning community mental health services, enjoying work and value for money.

The Scalable Part… We have around 150 active QI projects at the moment, which involve almost all of our 300 teams (both clinical and non-clinical). It’s difficult to calculate exactly how many people are involved in improvement work at any time, but almost everyone is touched by it in some way on a regular basis.

The Challenge… Our key challenge at this stage in our QI journey is to make quality truly our business strategy, and to integrate our approach to quality, performance, finance, workforce and operations into a single operating framework with quality at the core.

The Life QI Difference… We recognised early on in our QI journey that we would need a way to track progress, so that we could share the learning from those that were successful in tackling a complex issue, and target our support at those who were hitting barriers. From Excel spreadsheets and bespoke Access databases, we knew we needed something else when we hit over 100 projects in the organisation. We’ve been using Life QI for over a year now, and it is the single place where all our QI work happens. Projects are proposed, approved and worked on through the platform. People learn about other work happening in the Trust through the platform. People are encouraged to maintain the rigour of the method by using the platform.

We have integrated the platform into our training, and we’ve also been lucky enough to work with the fantastic Life QI team to continue to make improvements to the platform to enable it to function at enterprise level, and to ensure it is completely aligned to the methodology used by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the model for Improvement.

The Best Thing About Life QI is… The Life QI team, who are really receptive, responsive and fun to work with – always looking to improve their product. It’s been a great partnership for ELFT.