I have chosen to select an area from within the organisation, which would benefit from the introduction of a Total Quality Management approach, with a specific focus on communications. The area will be the Older Adults Community Mental Health Team (OACMHT) which is based in Mile End Mill in Paisley. This essay will identify the need for improvement, the means of implementation of Total Quality Management, and the role of communication in this process.
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The OACMHT is a relatively innovative venture as part of the Joint Future agenda where health and local authority social services staff work together in a communal office setting. This approach has the advantage of streamlining services through a shared assessment procedure, ensuring that the most appropriate professional is assigned to each case. This merging of health and social services is not without its challenges and is still in relatively early days, where team size, composition and skill mix vary within similar teams throughout the country.
Effective and constant communication is essential to ensure integration within this setting, as is the need for effective inter-agency co-operation, with individuals as components of a whole. These essentials, combined with the facts that the team is a comparatively new concept, has a relatively flat structure and is largely autonomous, would suggest that the OACMHT is “ripe” for implementation of a Total Quality Management approach.
Prior to designing a strategy, it is important to examine tried and tested theories as defined by quality experts and for the purposes of this essay the thoughts of Deming, Crosby and Juran were examined in particular. From the literature, not all three gurus are in total agreement on the specifics of achieving quality improvement: Deming is the philosopher and statistician: Juran’s approach is more managerial and Crosby utilises organisational behaviour and motivation. However there is a consensus of recurring themes in the collective recommendations, including those of the other experts researched, on the approach to Total Quality Management.
Organisational commitment to quality from the top, with strong, effective leadership Employee awareness and commitment Plan and prioritise, focusing on processes Design appropriate tools for evaluation Clearly identify and understand customers, both internal and external: meet and exceed their needs and expectations Identify indicators for performance, collect and organise data Team approach to perfect services for effective outcomes Constant training, learning and improving Quality as a culture COMMUNICATE all of the above.
Constant and effective two-way communication is vital during each phase of a Quality Management system cycle, through diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. Two-way communication is most important to gain information on customers needs and also to ensure understanding, via feedback, of information relayed to customers. The specific area identified for improvement within the OACMHT focuses on systems and procedures where we have the scenario of two different organisational systems merging to function as one.
Each organisation operates under different frameworks, each with their own policies, procedures, paperwork and management structure. This has the potential of instilling some confusion among team members as to their individual responsibilities within the team, which has the potential secondary effect of clients not receiving the optimum service on time, all the time, every time. This has implications also on quality costs, in terms of wasted resources, and on customer satisfaction, both internal and external. In other words, the process affects the outcome.