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by Valeria Fiore
22 December 2017

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In conversation with… Kay Keane

Kay Keane is business manager at the Alvanley Family Practice, which has more than 5000 patients. 

Q: How do you keep your practice thriving?

A: By constantly trying to change things that aren’t working. I am not afraid of doing things differently but at the same time, if something is working, leave that well alone. I also try to keep the staff involved in any changes that we do, because they are the experts in the role. Instead, from a patient point of view, we have a practice health champion group that keep us informed of what our patients need, and help us organise our social prescribing activities.

Q: Are you referring to a Patient Participation Group (PPG)?

A: We do not have a PPG. We could not get patients interested. So we engaged with an organisation called All Together Better and they helped us to recruit practice health champions. They work with us to come up with activities and events for our patients. It’s about well-being, wellness and health promotion and I think that really keeps us thriving.

I don’t think there is any additional benefit to having a PPG. When we could not have a PPG, we set up a Facebook group instead, and that is working really well. So we have a really active community on Facebook, where we share lots of health information and a lot of our patients engage with it. Lots of practices worry that they might receive complaints on Facebook and that patients will use it to moan. We don’t have that at all and instead we receive really positive comments from our patients.

Q: Why did you decide to create a Facebook page?

A: One day I was sitting in the waiting room, asking our patients why they would want to be part of a PPG and the majority of them were looking at Facebook while I was talking to them. Their reason was, ‘Why should we be coming to you when you should push information towards us?’

The easiest way to send out information free of charge is – of course – via Facebook. We now have more than 800 people ‘liking’ our page.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Our patients. We recently organised an event at a local café, where I met a gentleman who had not been out of his house other than for hospital appointments in over eight years. He was there because we managed to arrange to get him transported and he was so happy to be with us. That’s more inspiring than anything I could ever read or watch.

Q: What is your biggest achievement?

A: Last year, I was awarded the National Primary Care Practice Manager of the Year award.  However, beyond that I would say managing to increase our patient list size and the work with our patient champion is amazing and inspiring; it gives you insights on how to make changes within the community.

Q: What plans do you have for 2018?

A: We are planning some celebrations for 70 years of the NHS. We are going to celebrate with our patients who were born in July 1948, when the NHS was founded.

We also have a project called ‘feed the bird’. We want to help our isolated patients by providing them with a bird feeder and a list of birds they might see. Our patient champion will then go around every couple of weeks to refill the bird feeder and talk with patients to ask them which birds they saw.

It means that those isolated patients have got someone going around as a volunteer that can talk to them and make them feel more included within society.

Q: How will you further develop your practice?

A: I am expecting that we are going to do more about active signposting. I would like to make sure that patients see the right person and that our GPs can see the patients they need to see for longer.